Do you have Gout?

LionFive (CC0), Pixabay

Hello Diana, my problem is Gout which is very painful indeed. It comes and goes without warning and distresses me. Why do I get Gout, I thought it was a man thing, and what can I do to relieve the pain? …..

 

Mary O’Donnell Belfast

 

 

Mary, gout is a form of arthritis in which small uric acid crystals form inside and around the joints, caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling often without warning in the middle of the night, most commonly affecting the big toe. Painful and debilitating it mainly affects men over 30, but women after the menopause. It usually occurs in the toes, ankles, knees and fingers, with swelling in and around the affected joint, which feels hot, very tender and looks shiny and red.

Do you want to exercise at home?  Here are all of Diana’s videos to choose from – and tell your friends

Do you have memory loss?

Alexas_Fotos (CC0), Pixabay

Dear Diana I am in my early 60’s and am annoyed with myself because I often don’t remember people’s names or what I am out shopping for and sometimes I even forget what I did yesterday! My family get cross with me is there anything I can do to help myself?
Elaine Wright… Huddersfield

Dear Elaine it’s normal to become a bit forgetful as we get older. But memory loss (amnesia) is unusual forgetfulness which happens when we can’t remember information of new events, or past events which we would normally be able to recall. Memory loss can start suddenly and get worse over some time, or the loss may be for a short time (transient) and then resolve.

Some memory loss may be caused by anxiety stress or depression. It’s a distressing situation for both the person affected and their family with relatives sometimes fearing the worst. They assume its dementia, but this often isn’t the case, 40% of people over 65 have some type of memory problem, but only 15% will develop dementia each year.

Simple tips to cope with poor memory are keeping things like car keys in the same place, and writing important events and dates down. If you are worried it could more serious talk to your doctor who will do an initial assessment, ask questions about symptoms, your family history and lifestyle. A GP may arrange a blood test or if a more serious underlying condition is suspected, like brain damage, refer you to a specialist. But hopefully you jotting things down will do the trick!

Exercise your arms, chest and wrists

Before you begin any exercise programme check with your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, joint problems, back problems, obesity, a serious illness, or are convalescing

The following exercises concentrate on strengthening and maintaining suppleness in the shoulders, arms and wrists to be able to perform everyday upper body activities such as lifting and carrying. For some of the exercises you will need 2 small hand weights, or tin cans, or small plastic bottles filled with water or sand. Also a small soft ball (tennis) and 12 inch stick or ruler.

 To strengthen front arm muscle/biceps
       Biceps

Sit or stand feet shoulder width apart and tuck elbows tightly into your waist.    . With palms uppermost hold hand weights or small, filled plastic bottles out in front of you at waist level. Keep elbows tucked in tight throughout the exercise and simply lift weights to shoulders and lower back down 10 times with control.

The triceps muscles at the back of your arms work with the biceps muscles in the front of arms to produce strength and movement. Arms are prone to flabbiness as the years advance especially if you have had a dramatic weight loss through dieting.  If not exercised regularly the triceps can become floppy.

To firm up backs of upper arm/triceps muscle

       Triceps

Sit or stand holding weights or bottles as before, pull in tummy to maintain good posture.   Bend elbows hold weights up at chest level, pull shoulders back together and tuck elbows into waist. Hold upper arms in this position throughout exercise.    Now straighten lower arm only, take them down and back behind your body (turn fists backwards at the same time).  Now bend your elbows and bring weights back up to chest level again. If you keep upper arms steady with elbows tucked in throughout the exercise you’ll feel those back arm muscles working as you exercise! Repeat 10 times to strengthen triceps and tighten up those flabby “Batwings”!

To tone up arms and expand chest

       Flings

Stand or sit.   Raise arms up to shoulder level in front of chest, touch fingertips together, palms down and elbows bent.   Part fingertips, push arms and shoulders back once with strong firm movement expanding chest. Now open arms wide and fling hands back once (palms down) working upper back, bringing shoulder blades together and expanding chest.  Repeat routine 10 times

Bend elbows again and push back once, now fling arms open turning palms uppermost and push hands back once repeat routine 10 times.

To stretch out triceps muscles

       Triceps stretch

Sit or stand. Bend your right elbow, take right arm up and place your right hand behind you on your upper back.  Take your left hand across your chest and push your right upper arm and shoulder back as far as possible.   Hold for 10 seconds.   Now repeat with the left arm and hold for 10 secs.

To strengthen wrists, arms and chest

       Palm press

Sit or stand, bend your elbows but bring arms up to shoulder level, palms together in prayer position.   Keep fingertips touching but open out palms of hands.  Now close palms by pushing wrists together hard.  Continue opening and closing 10 times. A small but effective exercise.

 

To work upper arms and chest muscles

        Cuff  ups

Stand or sit.   Raise arms up to shoulder level.   Bend elbows and turning hands grasp opposite arms firmly at wrist level.   With short, firm movements “push up” imaginary cuffs from each wrist.   Feel the chest muscle jump and underarm muscle work. Repeat 10 times. An effective isometric exercise

To strengthen wrists and keep fingers supple

       Palm squeeze

Sit or stand.   Holding two tennis/soft balls, tuck your elbows into your waist with lower arms out in front, and palms uppermost.   Keep your arms and wrists still. Squeeze and release the balls 10 times, as tightly as possible.

To strengthen wrists

       wind up

Sit or stand.   For this exercise you will need a stick or ruler (approx. 1 inch thick).   Tie a piece of string 2 – 3 feet long securely in the middle of it.   Attach a small heavy object (a filled plastic bottle or stone) to the end of the string.   Hold the stick at both ends with palms of hands facing downwards.   Wind up the string with a twisting action.   Reverse the action by holding the stick palms upwards and unwind with control.  Repeat 5 times.

To strengthen wrists and arms

       push aways

Stand at least a foot away from a wall with outstretched arms.  Have your feet apart and arms at shoulder level with hands flat on wall and fingers inclined inwards. Pull in your tummy, keep your head, neck and back straight, bend your elbows out and lower yourself towards the wall.   Take your body weight on your wrists and hands.  If possible keep your heels down; you can stretch out your calf muscles at the same time!   (Don’t allow your body to sag). Push back upright and repeat 10 times.

To strengthen your wrists and arms

       Lift off

Sit forward in an armchair.   Extend your legs straight out in front with heels to the ground and toes pointing upwards.   Place your hands, with fingers facing forward, flat onto the arms of the chair.   Incline your chest forward (this corrects your centre of gravity) and try lifting your bottom off the seat.   Take body weight on your hands.  Keep your legs straight and continue to lift and lower back down 10 times. (If this is difficult sit back into chair, and with bent knees repeat lifting and lowering, until your wrists become stronger.)

Is the menopause stopping you from concentrating ?

congerdesign (CC0), Pixabay

“Meditation and Concentration are the way to a Life of Serenity” ~ (Baba Ram Dass).

But many a menopausal woman feels far from serene as she battles with the problem of trying to concentrate which frequently occurs during the perimenopause, the transitional period before menopause. Some women worry in case this lack of concentration is an early sign of a memory loss or feel frightened it may be the first indication of a long-term memory condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. In the majority of cases this is not so, and the symptoms resolve once through the menopause.

However, if these lacks of concentration sounds like you don’t get too anxious because it could simply be due to hormonal fluctuations. During the perimenopause fluctuations of the hormone oestrogen, which stimulates blood flow to the brain and aids learning and memory by helping nerve cells form new connections, can fluctuate. Consequently, when hormonal levels are low, brain function can be affected, particularly the low levels of the hormone oestrogen, which helps keep the brain functioning at its optimum.

Do you check your Bra size?

Greyerbaby (CC0), Pixabay

Hi Diana can you help me to find a bra that fits! I have made some expensive mistakes recently buying bras that do nothing for me. How can I make sure I get the right size to give me a good shape?
Charlotte Temple….Chester

Charlotte you’re obviously not wearing the right size because your bra should fit snugly, be comfortable and make you feel good! The most common problems are flesh bulging out, shoulder straps and wires cutting in, back band riding up and cups that are either too tight or baggy.

Stand facing a large mirror and check the under band of the bra is snug when fastened on the last hook, and that it’s level horizontally both front and back. If the under band rides up the bra size is too big. When you adjust the shoulder straps they should support the cups but still be comfortable. If the cup size is correct the top of the cup should lie totally flat on your bust, it should completely enclose each breast and sit comfortably in the crease underneath your breasts and under your arms.

If your cup size is too small, your bust will bulge over the top and sides so try a bigger cup size, but if there is space in the cups around your bust, then the cup is too big. Your bra should fit perfectly without any gaps so experiment with bra sizes.

Maybe go down in back size but up in cup size – or vice-versa to achieve that great shape you deserve!

 

Do you have itchy skin?

Hello Diana I’m recently not comfortable in my own skin. It’s often itchy which distresses me. I am wondering what is causing this and if there is anything I can do to avoid the discomfort?
Monica Jennings Preston

andreas160578 (CC0), Pixabay

Monica I have a sensitive skin myself and find itching and skin reactions are usually caused by an allergen, irritant or other environmental factors. Contact dermatitis, inflammation of the skin, occurs from contact with irritants including certain ingredients and fragrances found in cosmetics or hair dyes for example, or from contact with certain metals like nickel or cobalt. Some itchy problems are caused by plants such as primula, daffodils, tulips, sunflowers and chrysanthemums. Other people are allergic to rubber and latex and some medicines called opioids (for example Aspirin).

Itching may be due to eczema, where the skin is dry, red, flaky and itchy. Urticaria, also known as hives, welts or nettle rash, is triggered by an allergen and causes a raised, red itchy rash to develop. Warm weather can cause itching from prickly heat or skin discomfort from over exposure to the sun. Parasites and insects, wasps, bees, mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs cause itching but the source is visually obvious! Anti-histimines can help. Well known brands of unperfumed moisturisers made for dry, sensitive skin usually alleviate my itchy problems.

But itching could be a sign of an underlying condition affecting the inside of the body without necessarily causing any other obvious symptoms.

 

“Get moving, wake up and stretch”

lograstudio (CC0), Pixabay

Our daily routine should be a mixture of sitting, standing, moving and some moderate exercise.

But the pace of life makes it difficult and the sheer pressure of work causes poor posture and tension headaches.  We appear to carry the world on our shoulders and many people will experience stiff necks and poor posture as the years increase.  Sometimes bad posture can be due to bad chairs and seating position or too much sitting down in front of the TV or computer screen.

Help yourself by checking that your chair, desk and worktop is at a good height and in sufficient light. Then check your posture.

Sit with bottom well back on the seat and support your back with a cushion or towel if there’s an arch. Have legs slightly apart, knees bent to an angle of 90 with feet flat on the floor (if you’ve short legs a foot rest or block solves the problem.

My exercise plan will help keep you maintain your physical independence and keep your body supple as the years pass.  Make your work out last for 10-15 minutes. The less fit you are the longer you will need to warm up. All your movements should be rhythmic, not jerky.  Doing any exercise to music of a medium speed can make it more enjoyable.

Start your exercise session EVERY DAY with this great wake up and stretch.

To stretch out the entire body.

       wake up monkey stretch

Stand feet shoulder width apart, bend the knees, bend forward from the waist and swing arms down to floor and behind you. Now in a flowing movement straighten knees swing arms forward and high above your head.  Breathe deeply, lift rib cage, straighten up and stretch entire body.  Repeat rhythmically 5 times.

Release tension with the next two simple exercises.

    chicken neck

Sit or stand upright shoulders back, look straight ahead and stick your chin out forward as far as you can.  Keep your chin parallel to the floor.   Now retract and pull your chin back hard, into your neck and upper chest.  Stick chin out again, parallel to the floor, and now pull back hard.   Repeat this chicken like movement 5 times.

Excellent for posture and helping to prevent osteoporosis (fragile bone disease) in the upper spine.  But take extra care if you have neck problems.

To relieve tension headaches and give your eyes a treat 

       Bright eyes

Sit or stand as before and look straight ahead.   Without moving your head, take eyes only to look first to the right and focus, now down and focus, then on left and focus. Finally look up and focus.   Repeat these simple movements 5 times to relieve tired aching eyes.

To release tension and mobilise the neck 

       Head roll

Look over your right shoulder with chin parallel to the floor.   Drop chin to chest and slowly roll head to look over your left shoulder.   Roll chin back to chest and head on over to the right.   Repeat 5 times with control.   Do not roll your head backwards.

 To mobilise shoulder joints

       Shoulder lift

Sit or stand. Lift alternate shoulders up to ear level and press back down again. Don’t take shoulder to ear. Repeat 5 times with alternate shoulders

Are night cramps a problem?

Dear Diana

During the night I often suffer from cramp in my legs and feet whilst I am in bed. The pain can be excruciating, but fortunately doesn’t last too long. What causes cramp and is there anything I can do to prevent it?
Belinda Potts Surrey

Claudio_Scott (CC0), Pixabay

Belinda I know how you feel, it happens to me!

A third of people over 60 experience leg cramps, around 40% three or more cramps a week. Leg cramps are common, usually harmless, affecting any part including feet and thighs, but often the calf muscles.

Muscles suddenly contract (shorten), causing pain and temporary loss of control of the affected muscle. Painful at the time cramp can occur suddenly for no apparent reason and last from a few seconds to several minutes. Pain and tenderness can be felt for several hours afterwards. In some people dehydration (caused by low levels of water in the body) leads to a drop in salt levels, which can trigger muscle cramps.

Keeping sheets and blankets loose, plus regular exercise and stretching the lower leg muscles may help prevent cramps.

To stretch your calf muscles, stand with toes on a stair (hold bannister for support) with heels hanging over edge. Slowly lower heels down to below the level of stair. Hold for a few seconds and feel the stretch! Repeat 10 times.

If leg cramps are frequent, plus symptoms like numbness or swelling it may be an indication of secondary leg cramps caused by an underlying condition. Talk to your GP.