Prevention illness: Dr Hillary's Surgery

Dr Hillary Jones


Web chats tv

Modern living getting you down? Suffering recurring pain? Or confused by the array of over the counter medicines available? Whatever your medical question, Dr Hilary Jones is on hand to help.

 He joined us for an online chat where he was able to deal with many of your health related questions and queries. While Dr. Hilary's extensive experience as a GP, and later a GP trainer, mean he's the right man to talk to about a variety of family health issues, he's particularly interested in preventing illnesses by helping people manage stress and achieve a healthy work/life balance.




Any information you receive during this webchat should be used for information purposes only and is not intended to replace qualified medical advice. For treatment or medication you should consult your doctor. The publication of information on or relating to the webchat does not necessarily mean that any conditions and treatment referred to are covered by AXA PPP healthcare's policies. If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular condition or treatment is covered by AXA PPP healthcare's policies, you should contact AXA PPP healthcare's team of personal advisors on 0800 335555.




P******* wants to know: "Many thanks for answering my question. I'm a great fan of GMTV and always look forward to seeing you. I am 38 years old and wish to start a family. I was diagnosed with O.C.D. about 8 years ago and have since been on medication. I take Anafranil (225mg per day) every evening which keeps my O.C.D. under control. I have spoken to my psychiatrist together with my G.P. and we have agreed that I should carry on taking the medication even when pregnant for fear my O.C.D. will worsen. What do you think? I have also read an article saying that it would be better not to breast-feed. Do you agree? Should I stop the medication for any period of time during my pregnancy? If so, when and how long for? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Hi, best not to breast feed because of medication transmission to baby through breast milk. I think benefits of continuing treatment throughout pregnancy outweigh any downside. Keep well and enjoy your pregnancy.




Pam wants to know: "I am a fit and healthy 61 year old female, but do find sometimes I need to pass water in a hurry. At times during the night I need to pass water several times, often 5 mins after going. I often wake up and drink 1/2 glasses of water. Please advise if pelvic exercises will help and any further advice herbal or conventional treatment would help. " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Pelvic floor exercises generally help but referral to an urologist would be good. Modern medications and even minor surgery to strengthen the bladder neck muscles can be very successful. Meantime use cranberry juice or lemon barley water to ease symptoms.




Maureen wants to know: "Stopped HRT after 10 years - 2 months ago. All symptoms returned. Will they eventually go? Will my abysmal short-term memory and lack of concentration remain - improve or deteriorate?? Help I am a self employed accountant and this is getting serious!!!! " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


There is no upper limit to the length of time you can take HRT provided the benefits outweigh the risks and you make sure you have necessary checks such as breast screening, smears etc. There are herbal alternatives but for severe symptoms they are rarely sufficiently effective. Talk to your GP about going back on HRT.




Gloria wants to know: "Could you please tell me your opinion of Analytical Therapy to help with a phobia of motorway driving. " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Phobias are generally quite easy to treat provided you get the right help. Analytical Therapy or cognitive therapy are very good and with patience and time you'll be able to drive wherever you wish (within reason)




Viviane wants to know: "What food should be avoided if suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


I recommend food intolerance testing first. Yorktest for example offer testing for a range of foods after which it is possible to eliminate culprit foods from your diet. Sometimes adjusting the amount of fibre in your diet helps but hypnotherapy and other stress relieving therapies are also very useful.




Margaret wants to know: "My husband has been suffering from the frustrating symptoms of there anything that has caused this condition, or is there anything that makes it worse? What is the best treatment other than perhaps the herbal remedy of gingko bilboa and an increase in vitamin B12? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Tinnitus is frustratingly difficult to treat; it comes from the degeneration in tiny nerve cells inside the inner ear. The standard treatment involves using "maskers" which are similar to hearing aids producing a background white noise which distracts the sufferer from the Tinnitus. Contact the Tinnitus Association for further info.




Bruce wants to know: "My son aged 13 years is very keen on sports. He has competed very successfully in cross-country events. In March this year after a 2.5 / 3 mile race on a mild day he complained of having sore ears after finishing. He is competitive, and pushes himself hard (he came first). This summer at his school sports day he ran the 800 metres and again mentioned he had sore ears after the event. The weather was dry, no wind and mild. He is small for his age but fit. Why does he get this and is it anything to be concerned about? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


He needs an examination of his ears and throat. The likely problem is air pressure change due to catarrh for which treatment is likely to be very useful.




Syd wants to know: "I had a fairly severe stroke 18 months and am making a slow recovery. I can now walk fairly well but very slowly and still have problems with my balance. Could this be due to my medication (40mg Lisinopril, 10mg Simvastatin, and 2.5mg Bendrofluazide per day) or is it the effect of the stroke? Could you suggest any way to improve my balance please? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Balance can certainly be affected by a stroke depending on which arteries have been involved. Medication can also cause dizziness and vertigo but this is less likely. Physiotherapy can improve your balance over time.




Viola wants to know: "My 6 month old baby has very bad eczema on his thighs. We've tried everything. Please help" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


I tend to use plenty of emollients (moisturisers) both on the skin and in the bath. I also advise dilute hydrocortisone cream to get the rash under control after which I would use it sparingly. Avoid soaps and use aqueous cream instead.




Amber wants to know: "My daughter has very bad acne. We've tried a range of medicated products, but still it continues. Both my husband and I had good skin as teenagers and I am at a loss as to how to deal with it. Please help." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Start with a topical antibiotic lotion like Dalacin T or use low dose antibiotics for three to six months. Ultra violet light will help but if the acne is severe hospital treatment with Roaccutane can be very effective.




Anne wants to know: "We are going on a cruise next month and will visit Mombasa, Zanzibar, Mayotte and Madagascar. Could you please give me your advise on Malaria precautions, bearing in mind that the excursions will all be during the day and last approx. 3 to 4 hours. I have read about Malarone, what are your views on this drug, and its side effects? Do you feel that we should take this or any other drug, or perhaps sensible precautions will be sufficient? I look forward to any advise you may be able to give. " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Always check nearer the time about travel requirements as advice changes according to malaria treatment resistance etc. Malarone can have nasty side effects and tends to be used where alternatives are known locally to be less than satisfactory. Your GP can put you in touch with your nearest health travel centre.




Teresa wants to know: "I have always had weak nails. I can only keep them very short and even when short they break or flake. I eat a balanced diet and have recently tried some vitamins especially for nails, but they didn't make any difference. I have thick, strong hair although I do lose quite a bit when washing/brushing. I read that weak nails could be to do with liver problems is this true? Please help. " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Nail problems are rarely due to serious medical conditions if you are generally healthy. Iron deficiency is perhaps the commonest mineral deficiency which might be responsible but detergents and constant wetness of hands are more to blame. I recommend cotton lined rubber gloves whenever you have your hands in water.




Michelle wants to know: "My mum takes a lot of different vitamins and supplements and I am worried about the combination. Is there anywhere she can check to see if the combinations are okay to take? Thanks" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Undoubtedly some people overdose on vitamins. This could be harmful. Always follow the directions. The best solution is a single multivitamin supplement daily combined with a well balanced diet as normal food enables maximum absorption of the vitamins.




Davina wants to know: "Hi, I've been suffering from an eating disorder for around 2.5 years. I'm a normal weight but throw up most of my food and recently I've been binging and purging a lot! I pretty much know why it started, stress caused by a few of life's worst moments. I've now got my head round that and although I know what a sensible diet should be, I can't now seem to stop the pattern. I'm afraid if I start eating normally, I'll put on a dreadful amount of weight. I take regular exercise and I traditionally follow a healthy diet but what can do to stop the pattern and prevent weight gain once I start eating normally?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


You have done very well already so congratulations! Beating an eating disorder is tough. Work out which problems make you most stressed and deal with those conditions. Don't be afraid to seek counselling and psychotherapy if necessary as these can cement your progress.




Carol wants to know: "Hi, Since October last year, I have had constant fatigue, aching muscles and a sore throat. My doctor diagnosed me with Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome after blood tests showed nothing abnormal and I started taking St Johns Wort. However, it is nearly a year since this diagnosis. My doctor sent me to see a psychiatrist a few months ago as he thought I had classic symptoms of stress. The psychiatrist said I had mild depression (but she couldn't account for why I get a sore throat or muscular aches and pains) and wants to prescribe me low-dose anti-depressants. I am certainly not depressed and I don't believe that taking the drugs would help my symptoms. I have changed my lifestyle and tried to reduce stress levels. I eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. I used to love running and very active sports but now I find I just don't have the energy to do them which gets me down. I feel like my 'get-up-and-go' has 'got-up-and-gone'! Any advice on what I should do next to get back to my normal self would be appreciated." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Join either of the ME charities for backup. A gentle self-tailored programme of exercise is good and certain supplements specially magnesium maybe a benefit. It helps to know that this condition does get better with time so work within your limitations and stay positive.




Josie wants to know: "Due to bleeding between periods I had an ultrasound scan which showed thickening in my womb. I now have to have a d & c but what could be the cause of this thickening?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Usually this problem is due to hormonal imbalance. The operation should remedy the problem in the short term but it maybe necessary to have ongoing medication to prevent it recurring.




Mandy wants to know: "I recently had shingles on my face and neck which has left scaring. How long will this take to disappear and is there anything I can do to help this? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Unfortunately scarring from shingles can be permanent as it sometime is after acne or measles. However, dermabrasion or chemical peeling treatments can remove scarring albeit at the risk of upsetting the nerves which can cause pain after you have had shingles. Use cosmetics such as Covermark to disguise the scars in the meantime.




JL wants to know: "My granddaughter was born 9 weeks premature - fortunately she is developing very well and seems to be fit and healthy. However I am concerned about the MMR in light of the concerns in the media re a possible link to autism. Do you think that because of her very premature birth and also the fact that her father suffers with eczema there are any added implications re the MMR?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


In my opinion your granddaughter needs protection with the MMR vaccinations more than most. I do not have any worries about the MMR and its safety. If I did, I would not have vaccinated my own children with MMR.




Jenny wants to know: "I have had dangerous sleep walking experiences. Really bizarre, walking 3 miles at night in the pouring rain, writing notes backwards, carving knife. Police found me and took me to hospital. Test were done, but no cause found. The last one made me really anxious, I'm frightened to go to sleep. My doctor is sending me for a scan. Is there anything I can do? Is there any self help groups or support groups around?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Your sleepwalking is certainly extreme and unlike most cases could be putting you at some risk. Brain wave tests should be able to confirm a sleep disorder but a scan will help rule out more serious problems. There are sleep clinics to which you can be referred by your GP. I hope this helps.




Carole wants to know: "I have had psoriasis on my hands for 4 years on and off it- has now attacked my nail bed and I have lost all my nails - will they grow back - and what can I take to prevent it getting worse other than steroid cream?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Psoriasis of the nails is difficult to treat. You can push steroid cream as far down under the nail as possible but more effective treatments such as methotrexate have recognised side effects as they are much more potent.




Emma wants to know: "I've had the symptoms of glandular fever (swollen glands, neck ache, headache, chronic fatigue etc. I've also got one yellow spot on one of my tonsils that has been there the whole time) for 6 months - my ESR has been raised between 62 and 78 for the whole period yet the mono spot test has come back negative, twice. Could I still have Glandular fever or is the test 100% accurate?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


There are two tests for GF either of which will usually be positive. It's possible that your symptoms are due to some other condition as the symptoms that you have are non-specific. I would see your GP again to review the situation.




Ms C wants to know: "I have suffered from migraines all my life and I am currently being prescribed Imigran injections & Voltarol suppositories (I become violently sick). I have heard that botox injections and acupuncture can be used to treat migraines - what do you think?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


These new therapies are untried and unproven and I would let other people be the guinea pigs first. If your conventional treatment is failing to prevent your migraines ask for referral to migraine specialist clinic for further help.




Billy wants to know: "In one of your articles you talked about Marmite as a repellent for Mosquitoes/insects. Do you still recommend this and if so what dosage do you recommend and when before my holiday should I start taking it? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


The story goes that high doses of vitamin B complex can reduce mosquito bites. Like humans some of them hate it! Joking apart you would not need more than the usual spread on your toast to obtain the effective dose and it maybe worth a try.




Rod wants to know: "Last year I had cartilage trouble and have since had two subsequent keyhole operations on my knee. Neither of them worked and the fact is my knee is now worse than ever. The follow up advice seemed very loose despite the fact that both operations were carried out at two leading private hospitals in the northwest. I have since met several people who have the same experience and it would be interesting to hear whether in fact this type of treatment has a high level of failure." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Usually a meniscectomy operation is very effective, it was for me. Sometimes surgeons remove only part of the damaged cartilage leaving a troublesome remnant. It could also be osteoarthritis causing the trouble but physiotherapy and treatments such as Durolane might be worth asking about.




Kate wants to know: "I had a baby (my first) in January this year. A few weeks after having him I started to get very stiff hands, followed a little later by painful feet. The hands were stiffest at night and first thing in the morning. This has fortunately begun to ease up after 8 months, but I'm still curious as to what caused it (the doctors are baffled). My feet still hurt when I get up after having been seated, and it's painful to walk for a few moments. Any ideas as to the causes?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


My first suggestion is to have a blood test to rule out any form of rheumatoid arthritis. This is common in women in their late 20's or early 30's and pregnancy can sometimes trigger it. It often starts with these kind of symptoms. See your GP.




Lindsay wants to know: "I seem to be producing to much bodily hair do you think I should seek medical advice?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Mostly this is inherited as a racial trait. But it is also seen in glandular conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Blood tests can look for this. Otherwise laser treatment and electrolysis are the best permanent methods of hair removal.




Anne wants to know: "Could you tell me what the number in a PSA count means? I have read that it is possibly to have a PSA count in the thousands and still be healthy and yet have a PSA of 1 and have advanced prostate cancer. I wonder why this test is used, if it does not actually reflect the progression of the cancer?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


The PSA test is a reasonable indicator of problems in the prostate gland but it still produces false positives and false negatives. Some experts prefer to rely on digital rectal examinations and other tests to assess prostate health. You seem to have been one of those that this test has let down.




AB wants to know: "At a recent heart scan I was told I had a leaky valve is this serious? I think I have had it for many years." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Many people have a leaky valve yet it causes them no trouble. Much depends on the extent. Echo scans can shed much light on this and if blood flow is compromised heart valve surgery maybe recommended to prevent deterioration in the future. This is now very safe indeed.




Sally Turner wants to know: "My husband had a heart attack in Dec 03. He had a stent fitted & is now on medication Ramipril 10mg, Antavastatin, Aspirin & Clopidogrel. Could any of these be responsible for acute halitosis - dental checks are fine. He has also lost interest in sex is this also a side effect of any of the tablets? How can we return to normal on both counts?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


The breath situation is unlikely to be due to the tablets but there are many different causes. Contact the Fresh Breath Centre for ideas. As regards to Libido loss this could be due to loss of confidence after the heart attack (to the medication) or to age. But counselling could very well help, as sex is perfectly possible after heart attacks.




Peter wants to know: "I write on behalf of my mother who is over 70 and used to do a lot of ballet dancing. She suffers symptoms in her feet similar to those that feature in Perpipheral Neuropathy (numbness, burning, aching feet). Is there anything you could suggest which may alleviate these symptoms? I gather there is no cure as such." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Is she diabetic or deficient in any vitamins or minerals? If so this might be the cause. There are medications that can reduce burning and aching and these would certainly be worth exploring with her doctor. She might also like to contact the Ekbom Society that helps people with restless leg syndrome.




Martin wants to know: "Can repeated MRI scans cause any detrimental effects?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


These scans are brilliant for diagnosis but they deliver a relatively high dose of radiation compared to standard X-rays. Provided the value of the scan offsets the accumulation of radiation in your body it is still worth having. Talk to the radiologist before you proceed.




Lisa wants to know: "Can you still check your breasts if you have had implants?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Yes. But much depends on whether the implants are below the muscle or the breast tissue. You still need to be breast aware and check on a regular basis for any changes. Incidentally mammograms are also still useful.




Martyn wants to know: "I often get a numb left thumb when cycling. I don't think it's carpal tunnel syndrome. What else could it be?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Nerve entrapment. If your thumb base is pressed against the handle bar this could cause the problem but equally it could be a problem located in your neck. A thorough examination should be able to tell.




Jeannette wants to know: "I am 74 years of age and I have a blood pressure arm monitor. I take my blood pressure regularly and my normal reading at rest is between 112/81 pulse approximately. I am an exceptionally young looking active person. My blood pressure can go up to 130/89 or 140/90 when stressed but after sitting down after 5 minutes, my reading goes right down. Also if I am very stressed and tired it can go higher but comes down again at rest. Is this a worry? The majority of the time my readings are low especially for my age." 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


This sounds great. Blood pressure changes all the time on an hour-to-hour basis depending on what you are doing. Yours sounds very healthy, I hope mine matches yours when I get to your age.




Gabrielle wants to know: "My mother has just been diagnosed with osteoporosis. I'm 30, how can I limit the chances of my getting it as I get older? " 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Take regular weight bearing exercise, don't smoke, drink in moderation, eat a high calcium diet and contact the National Osteoporosis Society for advice as this does run in families.




Trisha wants to know: "Can you tell me some of the symptoms of meningitis?" 

Dr Hilary Jones said:


Severe headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting and increasing drowsiness are typical. Sometimes there maybe a rash which does not blanche when pressed with a glass tumbler. Cold hands and feet are a serious sign in combination with the above. For an excellent visual aid memoir contact the Meningitis Research Foundation in Thornbury near Bristol.


Dr Hilary Jones


It's been great to be in touch with you. I wish you all the best in health and happiness. Be well.




Unfortunately we have run out of time. Our apologies for not being able to answer every one of the scores of questions we have received. In the meantime, Dr Hilary advises that your doctor will be able to give you advice tailored to your particular treatment needs. Any information you receive during this webchat should be used for information purposes only and is not intended to replace qualified medical advice. For treatment or medication you should consult your doctor. The publication of information on or relating to the webchat does not necessarily mean that any conditions and treatment referred to are covered by AXA PPP healthcare's policies.

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