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E-cigarettes………the pros and the cons!

The era of e-cigarettes is here and it is a booming billion dollar industry. Unfortunately the growing popularity of e-cigarettes is racing faster than research into their safety.

How e-cigarettes work

All brands basically work the same way. There is a battery, a heating element and a cartridge that holds nicotine and other liquids and flavourings. Some are disposable whilst others have a rechargeable battery and refillable cartridges.

They are made to look like a real cigarette. The end glows when inhaled and during exhalation a puff of vapour is released.

Are They Safe?

There is no question that the nicotine inside the cartridges is addictive. When a person stops using it they can get withdrawal symptoms including feeling irritable, depressed, restless and anxious. It can be dangerous for people with certain heart conditions. However, evidence so far suggests that e-cigarettes may be safer than regular cigarettes. Tests show the levels of dangerous chemicals they give off are a fraction of what you'd get from a real cigarette.

Pros and Cons

E-cigarettes have triggered a fierce debate among health experts. The biggest danger from tobacco is smoke and of course e-cigarettes don’t burn. But they disagree about whether e-cigarettes make the problem better or worse.

Opponents say that because nicotine is addictive, e-cigarettes could be a "gateway drug," leading non-smokers and kids to use tobacco. They also worry that manufacturers with huge advertising budgets and celebrity endorsements could make smoking popular again. This would destroy any good that has come out of anti-smoking campaigns.

Some supporters believe that e-cigarettes could help people quit, just like nicotine gum.

Whichever side of the fence you sit, I think that most people would agree that undoubtably, the best case scenario is to quit smoking cigarettes altogether, be it normal cigarettes or e-cigarettes.

Laser therapy – a different approach to giving up smoking

For those who’ve tried other ways to ‘kick the habit’ laser therapy may be the answer. It is completely painless and has no side effects whatsoever. So how does it work? Once the low level (cold) laser is activated on acupuncture points, endorphins (natural painkillers in your body) are released. This has a calming and relaxing effect and eliminates the desire for a cigarette. Laser also takes away cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Therapy also includes 24 hour back-up and support from our laser technician Anni Mann.

For more information about stopping smoking with laser contact the Family Medical Centre, Albir 966 865 072

Breast Cysts

Breast cysts are fluid filled sacs that develop in breast tissue. In the majority of cases they do not cause problems and are a benign (not cancerous) condition. They can develop in one or both breasts and it is common to have more than one cyst. It’s thought that they develop naturally as the breast changes with age, due to normal changes in hormone levels. Breast cysts can feel either soft or hard, can be any size ranging from a few millimetres to several centimetres and can develop anywhere in the breast.

Cysts are more common in women aged over 35yrs. They develop more often as women get closer to the menopause and usually stop once a woman has been through the menopause. However, women who are take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after the menopause may also develop cysts.

Many women that have cysts are completely unaware of their existence. However, for some people cysts can feel uncomfortable and even painful. Before a period, cysts may become larger and feel sore and tender.

Some women will discover a breast cyst themselves as a noticeable lump. All breast lumps should be immediately reported to a G.P. Even if a G.P. feels a lump is a harmless cyst he is likely to refer the patient to a breast clinic for confirmation. This is usually made by a breast ultrasound scan.

Others will be found during a routine mammogram. If this is the case often the patient will be sent for an ultrasound scan immediately after the mammogram so that the patient will not be sent home worrying about an abnormal mammogram and awaiting an appointment for an ultrasound.

Most breast cysts do not require any further treatment or follow up and many just go away by themselves.

If the cyst is large or causing discomfort, a doctor can take off the fluid using a fine needle and syringe. Sometimes this is done using ultrasound to help find the cyst. The fluid drawn off from the cyst can vary in colour and range from clear to very dark. It will usually only be sent to a laboratory for testing if the fluid is blood-stained. This is not a painful procedure but the patient may feel a little tender afterwards.

Some breast cysts ‘come back’ and some patients develop new cysts. For others, the cysts disappear for good.

The golden rule is to always see your Family Doctor without delay if you become aware of any breast changes.

Shoulder problems

There isn’t a week that I don’t see a patient come with shoulder problems which in many cases are debilitating and extremely painful. What usually occurs is that the patient starts with a mild pain around the shoulder joint, and expects it to go away within a few days or weeks, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen. Because it is left untreated for several weeks or months they can no longer continue with their daily routine because of the loss of mobility and intensity of the pain.

This issue needs attending as soon as possible to avoid chronic shoulder issues. The sooner it is treated the better the recovery, and of course, less sessions will be needed.

Of course not every shoulder is the same. We can find all kinds of causes for shoulder dysfunctions that vary from a mild muscle problem (that only involves a couple of sessions to re-establish the rotator cuff stability), to a rotator cuff tendinitis (or more correctly, tendonosis) that requires a correct diagnosis (MRI or Ultrasonography in many cases) and needs many more sessions to obtain a full recovery.

I will now describe the typical scenario of a supraspinatus (rotator cuff tendon)tendonosis:

This is a condition that develops over time, usually caused by a repetitive strain on the tendon due to a certain activity under which the tendon is continually irritated. At the beginning this tendon puts up with this strain and doesn’t cause any pain at all, the patient may feel slight tiredness in the shoulder, but nothing more. Over time the tendon enlarges and begins to give symptoms, patients refer pain and weakness in the affected shoulder.

With tendonosis we find a curious type of pain. In many occasions after a few weeks or months, the pain is located further down the arm and doesn’t really give pain in the actual shoulder. in this case it is referred pain from the tendon that travels half way down the side of the humerus. Patients often comment that they have no pain most of the day but there are certain movements that ‘catch them out’ with intense pain.

Another thing that also happens is that the patient often mentions that there are certain days that they feel practically no pain and feel it is improving, but then they have other days where the pain is very intense. As they say, “I have good days and bad days”.

If left untreated for weeks or months there is a high risk of developing a “frozen shoulder”, and this is a real problem that can take months or years to cure.

This is just a very short example of one of the most common conditions that we treat here at the Family Medical Centre, but there are many other conditions that can affect the shoulder with different symptoms.

In conclusion, any shoulder discomfort should be assessed by your physiotherapist or osteopath to determine a correct diagnosis allowing a correct treatment and recovery.

Article supplied by Simon Ratcliffe
Osteopath, the Family Medical Centre, Albir.

The Core Team

Dawn Blythe

Clinic Director, Practice Midwife

Yvonne Evans

Clinic Director, Nurse

Dr. An Croonenborghs

General Practitioner

Jane Evans