Did you ‘Go Gold’ for Childhood Cancer?

 On the last day of September I wanted to share my recent Patient piece about the campaign to raise awareness of childhood cancer. A definite read for any parent.

Where has all the blogging gone….?

The new term has started, Autumn is definitely upon us and I’m slightly scratching my head wondering where the year has gone. So I thought it was about time I did a little update on where the heck I’ve been the last few months?

Well firstly I’ve not been still for too long and have been fairly busy going back to work, writing for a few medical publications, attempting to get fit…oh and yeah…trying to look after the 3 sprogs! So its fair to say life has not been quiet.

I’m sure many of you will be aware of the fantastic health resource; Patient? Its a fount of information about pretty much any medical condition going, and worth checking out if you haven’t previously come across it. The site also has an awesome wellbeing section which offers all sorts of more informal advice about nutrition, exercise, parenting and health and I’m really delighted to have started collaborating with them! I will post regular links from here to their site, as and when my posts are published…..all very exciting!

I hope to also keep this little baby rumbling along, so as well as the Patient pieces I will endeavour to keep chatting away to you all…after all, I am the chatty doctor!

As always any ideas for posts please leave a comment below, or contact me via Facebook or Twitter.


11 ways to get the most out of your GP consultation

My poor little blog has been rather neglected recently. I don’t think I’ve posted anything for about a month, which is a far cry from my twice a week enthusiastic start. But hey ho …. that’s life isn’t it! Sprog3 is now the ripe old age of 6 months, so its fair to say that my brain is now officially frazzled and the logistics of being a family of 5 is catching up with me. I am barely able to string two coherent sentences together, let alone write something intelligible about a pressing medical issue. So today I thought I’d write a post that I’ve been musing about for some time (and doesn’t require me read a single journal article either which is a total bonus!).

So…the average GP appointment lasts 10 minutes. 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes.

Lots of you may be aware of this fact but have you ever actually stopped to think how long that actually is. The answer is, not long. And don’t forget that the clock starts as soon as your name is called, so the 10 minute slot includes you walking into the doctors room, taking off your coat (more on that later), having your consultation, putting your coat back on, leaving and then the doctor writing up your notes and requesting various investigations etc. Clearly time is tight. In order that you get as much as possible out of this small time slot, there are a few things you can do to help things go as smoothly as possible. Continue reading →

New ‘test’ for Ovarian Cancer? Did you see the recent headlines??

The press was recently all a buzz about a new screening method that may be able to identify people at risk of ovarian cancer. Since I’m currently still on maternity leave I thought I should probably have a read about this before re-entering the world of work, and thought I’d share my findings with you all.

abdo ussOvarian Cancer is particularly nasty disease. It typically presents quite late, by which time the cancer can be fairly well established and treatment options are more limited. The main reason this happens is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are very vague and insidious. There is no ‘lump’ to find or blood to see – so vague niggling symptoms can go unnoticed and unchecked for many months. An easy and quick test would be quite literally life saving for thousands of women, but as yet there is no such magic investigation. Continue reading →

The Chickenpox Vaccine … to immunise or not??

I’ve recently had a few people ask me for my thoughts on the varicella (or chickenpox) vaccine…. so here goes….


The immunisation has been around since 1995 and is part of routine childhood vaccination regimens in many countries including the USA. In the UK (as in others) vaccination is targeted at specific ‘at risk’ groups only.

So assuming you don’t fall into that category, should you bother forking out to have it done privately?

When thinking about immunisation a good rule of thumb is to consider two things. Number one is; how does it affect me or my child as individuals, and number two; what is the impact on the wider community. Continue reading →

Enjoying the weather? Then don’t forget to protect your skin…..

suburn handHow fantastic is the weather at the moment! Perfect timing for the Easter holidays and we (along with most of the country it seems) have been making the most of it. Having been slightly caught off guard by the beautiful rays earlier in the week, today I retrieved a bottle of factor 30 from the back of the cupboard, and even remembered to slop it on the sprogs every so often.

Obviously with many things in life prevention is better than cure, so avoiding getting sunburnt is clearly the name of the game. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few decades you will no doubt be aware of the harmful effects of UV light. Despite this, I bet your bottom dollar that you’ve occasionally had a pink glow about you following a long day in the sun? Yup – we’ve all done (and regretted) it. Its worth remembering that children are particularly susceptible to sun related skin damage and a significant burn can markedly increase their lifetime risk of melanoma…. a sobering thought. So if in doubt remember the old slip, slop, slap mantra….

Unfortunately there is no undoing sunburn. If you do misjudge things and get caught out I’m afraid to say that the damage has been done… however there are a few things that are definitely worth trying to ease things as much as possible….. Continue reading →

All you’ve ever wanted to know about the humble verruca!

happy feetWhen I was at school I fell in with a very sporty crowd of girls. Unfortunately for me I did not poses a huge amount of natural athletic flare, but being quite a diligent pupil I applied myself to sports and gradually worked my way up the rankings of the various teams. I don’t think I ever made the ‘A’ team of anything unless a rogue illness had swept through the school and I was the only one who was left standing…however I thoroughly enjoyed my sporty school days and loved the sense of being part of something.

When it came to whole school events such as sports-day or the swimming gala, I was in my competitive element. However other than nearly downing during the butterfly, my overwhelming memory of school swimming galas is of poor kids hobbling round with one foot clad in an off white plastic verruca sock. I always felt a bit mortified for these kids and extremely grateful that my mother clearly did not inspect the soles of my feet as vigorously as other parents appeared to.

Verruca’s are essentially just the name given to warts on the feet. Warts come in all shapes and sizes. The common wart is slightly raised and roughened. Verruca’s, or plantar warts, are often hard and painful lumps with tiny black specks in them.They are made more uncomfortable by the fact you put pressure on them with every step. Continue reading →

Less common (but really important) symptoms of a Heart Attack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo today is Valentines Day! Whoop whoop…. or not. Between you & me I’m not a big fan of old St Valentines. There is something about all those stuffed teddies and row upon row of perfect ‘stepford-esq’ red roses that I find rather sinister. The whole idea of a day of enforced lovey-dovey-ness is a bit peculiar isn’t it? Anyway I’m much more excited about Pancake Day which is just around the corner, so I guess I’m more of a glutton by nature than a romantic.

However its Valentines Day whether I like it or not, and if there is one thing that is utterly synonymous with today, it is hearts. I guarantee that for the next 24 hours you’ll barely be able to move without colliding into some form of gigantic inflatable heart-shaped monstrosity. So it seemed fairly apt to talk hearts – but in the more literal, less romantic, sense.

I’m sure you’ve all seen some form of cringe worthy TV rendition of ‘The Heart Attack’. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERATypically it involves a middle-aged man staggering around the set, clutching his chest and then falling to the floor in an overly dramatic, if rather unconvincing way. Heart attacks, or Myocardial Infarction as its known medically, can indeed occur like that but there are many more symptoms to be mindful of.

You may not be aware that only around 2/3  of people who have a heart attack experience chest pain. A large study from the US found that 30% of men and 40% of women did not have any chest pain when they arrived at hospital with a myocardial infarction. Women under the age of 45 are even less likely to have symptoms of chest pain during a heart attack. It is therefore really important to be aware that you can have a heart attack without having typical symptoms of chest pain.

Continue reading →

I’m a Vlogger….!

The very lovely and talented ladies at Mumtalk TV kindly asked me to do a video for their fab new YouTube channel….and here is the result. Am hoping to do a guest vlog on a regular basis so hopefully this is just the beginning! Do let me know what you think?

Eczema and how to best use emollient creams

???????????????????????????????Any one who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a rather atopic individual – having asthma, eczema and hayfever. These problems run in my family and I’ve now passed some of these traits onto my own children. A few years ago my son had quite a nasty flare up of eczema. His skin was incredibly dry and inflamed, and he wasn’t sleeping well due to the incessant itching. It was miserable for him – and for us – but fortunately once we’d found the correct creams to smear over him things settled down. The key to his improvement? Emollients, Emollients, Emollients!

Our skin is an amazing organ; it acts as a tough waterproof barrier for the rest of the body. In people with eczema the skin is less able to retain moisture. It becomes dry and tiny gaps can then form between the skin cells. This causes the top layer of the skin to stop being such an effective protective barrier, and the skin becomes cracked, irritated or inflamed.

 This explains why in eczema the main treatment is to get as much moisture back into the skin as possible, reversing the dryness and restoring the barrier. The best way to do this is via emollients – and in mild eczema this is often the only treatment needed. Emollients differ from commercial moisturisers in that they don’t contain any perfume or other ‘extras’ e.g. anti-ageing ingredients.

cream2There are 3 different types of emollient;

1)   Lotions: have a high water content. This makes them easy to spread over the skin, but less moisturising. They are best used on hairy areas.

2)   Creams: have a higher fat content than lotions, so are more moisturising. They are usually oil based and good for use all over the body, without causing too much ‘shine’.

3)   Ointments: ointments have the highest fat content. They are excellent moisturisers but are very greasy so usually not acceptable to people for day-to-day use. They are best used for more severe flare ups or before bed.

     Here are my top tips for treating eczema with emollients: Continue reading →

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