Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on weight gain during pregnancy and ear infections

Q. I put on a lot of weight during my pregnancy and, with my baby almost six months old, I have approximately a stone to lose. 

I am still breastfeeding but I wondered if you have you any suggestions on how to help me lose this weight.

A. Breastfeeding is a great natural way to ensure your baby is getting enough essential nutrients to ensure healthy growth and development. 

It can also be a tiring time for you and it is important you are getting enough nutrients, especially iron in your diet to avoid feeling overly tired or exhausted.

Some simple and easy tips you can use to help you lose weight can be incorporated easily into your daily routine and will make sure you maintain adequate nutrition while losing weight.

1. Stay hydrated: At least eight glasses of water a day will help keep you feeling fuller, will aid digestion which in turn will help weight loss and help keep you mentally alert.

2. Fruit and vegetables: Aim for at least five portions of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day. These will provide essential vitamins the body needs as well as providing fibre to help you feel full and again aid digestion,

3. Get active: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day — anything from walking to climbing stairs. Being mindful of your goal to incorporate more movement into the day and making small changes to your behaviour can help you achieve your weight loss goal.

4. Watch your portion size: Eating out, king size and supersize meal deals can all be the enemy when trying to lose weight. 

A fist-sized portion of rice or pasta, a palm-sized portion of meat or fish, a thumb-tip-sized portion of cooking oil/butter and a thumb-sized portion of hard cheese is a good easy reference way to make sure your portions are on track.

5. Beware empty calories: They come in the form of soft drinks, alcohol, chocolate, crisps, etc. These foods can be incorporated into a balanced diet as treats but should not form part of your staple diet if you are trying to lose weight.

Q. My son had a head cold recently and developed an ear infection, which resulted in a perforated eardrum. How long does this take to heal and will there be permanent damage to his hearing?

A. The ear drum is a thin membrane used to transmit sound in your ear; it separates the ear canal from the middle ear. Infection in the ear can cause inflammation and perforation of the eardrum. 

The initial ear infection may present with pain, fever and a red hot swollen eardrum. In some cases the ear drum will perforate due to a build-up of pressure causing a discharge which may be clear or stained with blood or pus. 

Ear infections are common in young children and should become less frequent with age as the ear canal grows and develops and makes it less susceptible to infection.

In this case, your GP may prescribe an antibiotic for the ear infection, simple pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen will also help with discomfort and temperatures. 

The perforated ear drum should heal within a couple of weeks but may take longer depending on the size of the perforation. 

Most perforations will heal on their own. However if the drum is not healing your GP may refer you to a specialist for repair surgery to patch the hole.

It is important to avoid getting the ear canal wet while the drum is healing, earplugs may be used while washing. Also, do not put anything into the canal — cotton buds must be avoided.

To prevent excess pressure in the ear avoid blowing the nose hard while the drum is healing.

Any hearing loss from an eardrum perforation is temporary in most cases and hearing should return to normal, if there are any concerns about hearing following an eardrum perforation this may be investigated by a specialist.

Many ear infections are mild, self-limiting illnesses and will often not require antibiotics; they can often be managed at home with paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain.

It is advisable to see your GP for an ear infection lasting longer than three days, where there is discharge from the ear or an ear infection in a very young child.


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