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Help! I get a bug bite on my bum every month – it itches and blisters every time

WHETHER it’s a job interview, a big meeting coming up at work, a house move or your child sitting exams, life is full of worries

It’s natural to feel anxious, and most of us will experience those feelings fairly regularly.

Dr Zoe Williams answers some common questions sent in by readers

The cost-of-living crisis is only likely to make that worse, putting more pressure on families.

So how can you tell the difference between the odd bout of anxiety, and an anxiety disorder?

If you’re struggling to control your worries, if your anxiety feels constant and it’s starting to affect your life, it might be time to seek help.

The symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder can vary, but include feeling restless or worried, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, dizziness or heart palpitations.

If you notice any of these, speak to your GP. They will ask about your symptoms, fears and emotions and be able to suggest best treatment.

Like with any physical health concerns, when it comes to your mental health it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.

Don’t suffer in silence.

Let’s take a look at readers’ questions I’ve answered this week . . . 

Q) What advice/help do you have for someone suffering from health anxiety?

A) Firstly, thank you for coming forward and asking this.

Health anxiety is when you constantly worry about your health, but for people with the condition it can be so much worse than it sounds.

It’s often accompanied by constantly checking yourself for lumps, pain or tingling.

There’s a constant fear and worry you have something making you ill you don’t know about.

It can mean you’re constantly seeking reassurance from your GP that you’re OK and not unwell and people with health anxiety often excessively search and research health conditions then think they have them.

It can take people a while to realise this might be health anxiety, rather than the other conditions they think they might have.
It might be worth keeping a diary.

Write how often you think about your health and what those thoughts are.

Try to reduce the number of entries over the course of a week by challenging every thought.

If you have a headache and think the worst, remind yourself headaches are often caused by stress, so try a long bath to relax or a walk in nature.

If you find you have intrusive health thoughts at certain times of the day, keep busy — if they come in the morning, make that the time you head out for exercise or do a YouTube exercise class.

If they come at night-time when you’re trying to get to sleep, read a book in bed for a while.

You can also self-refer for talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural sessions on the NHS, but the waiting times are likely to be variable depending on where you’re based.

Q) WOULD removing a fibroid in my womb reduce period pain?

A) Fibroids are non-cancerous growths which occur in the muscular wall of the womb and can range between the size of a pea or melon.

In some cases — around half of women affected — they cause no symptoms at all, while in others they can bring pain.

They can contribute to long and heavy periods, as well as anaemia.

And in some cases they can impact on fertility, and be the cause of bleeding between periods.

Fibroids can be left alone if they’re not causing any problems.

But in your case, they may be causing worsened period pain so your GP or specialist should talk you through the options.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, are an option — as are the contraceptive Pill or coil.

The levonorgestrel intrauterine system, or (coil) releases progesterone, which can be of help.

And there are also treatments called gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues which can help shrink fibroids.

But they can cause menopause-like side-effects including hot flushes, increased sweating, muscle stiffness and vaginal dryness.

There are non-surgical treatments including uterine artery embolization and endometrial ablation, but both affect fertility.

And finally there are surgical options but they tend to be explored only if non-surgical treatments are not working.

The type of surgical treatment you might be offered also depends on whether you want to preserve your future fertility, to have children.

A myomectomy is an op to remove only fibroids, whereas a hysterectomy removes the whole womb.

Your GP will be able to refer you but do make sure that you understand each procedure thoroughly and have had the potential side-effects or complications spelled out to you.

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