Ease the pain

Don’t let your child eat spicy food, acidic drinks and very salty foods if he suffers from mouth ulcers and avoid giving him hard food like toast and crackers.

Ease the pain

¦ My eight-year-old son has developed uncomfortable mouth ulcers. Is there a product you would recommend?

>> Aphthous ulcers are common painful sores that can occur anywhere inside the mouth and will usually heal without treatment within 10-14 days.

These must be very painful for your son but you can reassure him they will heal. In the meantime, to help your child, you should try the following:

¦ Don’t let him eat spicy food, acidic drinks and very salty foods (this includes crisps).

¦ Avoid hard foods such as toast and crackers.

¦ Give him a straw to drink through so that he avoids liquids touching the ulcers — the straw should only be used for cold drinks.

¦ Swop his regular toothbrush for a very soft toothbrush.

You could get him to rinse his mouth with a warm salted water solution. Boil the water first and let it cool, add a little salt to a glass of the warm water and let him rinse his mouth with the solution.

It might a good idea to be with him when he does this to ensure he does not swallow the solution.

Occasionally a mouth ulcer can become secondarily infected with bacteria, and if your child experiences increased pain or redness, is feeling unwell or develops fever, antibiotic treatment may be required.

Not all mouth ulcers are aphthous. Others can occur in the mouth and can be a sign of an underlying illness or disease.

Keep in mind that if your son’s mouth ulcers last longer than two weeks or are recurrent, you should make an appointment with his GP for a full check-up.

Sometimes ulcers can be caused by a lack of iron or certain vitamins, such as vitamin B12 or folic acid. Your GP may recommend blood tests to check the iron count and vitamin B12 levels.

¦ My husband has started to snore loudly. While he sleeps through the night, I often have to go into the spare room. What can he do?

>> Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in your head and neck as you breathe in and out during sleep.

This includes the nasal passages, the soft palate in the roof of your mouth and your tonsils.

While sleeping, the airways relax and narrow which affects air pressure in the airways and causes the air tissue to vibrate. Although more common in people aged 40 to 60, snoring can affect people of all ages. Sometimes, a head cold or blocked nose can cause you to snore.

Alcohol consumption, being overweight or smoking are all contributing factors to increase a person’s chances of snoring.

Occasionally, snoring can be attributed to a more serious but related condition called obstructive sleep apnoea where the airways become partially blocked for a few seconds throughout the night, causing the person to wake up gasping or choking.

Snoring can also lead to disturbed sleep patterns leaving both you and your husband suffering from excessive tiredness or poor concentration, so it really would be advisable for your husband to see your GP to discuss the best way to improve the situation.

Your GP can advise and examine how serious the problem is and recommend the best form of treatment to improving snoring.

Although it is not always possible to cure snoring, losing weight and stopping smoking are usually some of the first recommendations.

Dr Bernadette Carr is Medical Director, Vhi Healthcare For more information visit www.vhi.ie or lo-call 1890 444 444

If you have a question about your health email it to feelgood@examiner.ie or send a letter to: Feelgood, Irish Examiner, City Quarter, Lapps Quay, Cork.

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