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12 treatable health ailments for a better Christmas and New Year

Benenden Hospital

The cold weather and winter conditions can sometimes worsen an existing health problem or result in new ones developing. At Benenden Hospital, we want to help you with any pain, discomfort or worries you may have as quickly as possible. We have pulled together a collection of helpful top tips from some of our expert Consultants, which explain what treatment options are available for your health problems. Read on to get healthy and happy for the new year:

1. Heartburn

Heartburn, also known as Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) or acid reflux, is a burning sensation in your chest caused by acid in your stomach leaking back into your oesophagus. Heartburn symptoms are often worse after rich meals, citrus fruits, hot beverages, or alcohol, so you may suffer more from heartburn over the festive period.

But what causes this condition and what treatment is available to relieve the discomfort of heartburn? To find out more about treatment for GORD, what causes this condition and the difference between heartburn and indigestion, read our article.

2. Nose problems

In cold weather with viruses such as cold and flu circulating, you may experience a more ‘congested’ nose. Discharge from your nose and a reduced sense of smell can all affect your quality of life. We can offer expert advice on the causes and treatment of a blocked nose including Septoplasty.

However, you may be struggling with ongoing sinus problems which can cause discomfort at any time of the year. Our functional endoscopic sinus surgery is a minimally invasive surgical ENT treatment carried out to treat some of the causes of chronically blocked sinuses (also known as sinusitis) so you can find relief.

3. Throat problems

Heading into the winter months, many of us are likely to pick up a cold or two, with one of the most common symptoms being a sore throat, but in some cases a sore throat can be a sign of something more serious particularly if it last for a number of weeks. A croaky voice, throat clearing and a postnasal drip, are just some of the symptoms of a persistent sore throat.

If you find you are suffering from a persistent sore throat, our Consultant ENT, Thyroid and Head & Neck Surgeon, Mr Robert Hone can help you to understand what the common causes and symptoms are of your throat problems and how our private ENT service can help soothe your discomfort. Read our latest article here.

4. Hip and knee problems

Did you know that hip replacement surgery is one of the most common procedures for over-50s in the UK? According to the National Joint Registry report the number of hip replacements is rising year-on-year and is set to increase by 40% over the next 30 years. While the procedure is most commonly associated with older patients between the ages of 60 and 80, the procedure can be for anyone with a worn hip joint.

We’ve created some simple guides to help you understand the hip replacement process, common hip symptoms are and when a hip replacement is needed.

As you get older, different types of arthritis and injury can increase the likelihood of experiencing knee pain. This can affect your general mobility and your knee may be swollen and painful. If your knee joint lining is badly damaged or worn by arthritis, you may need knee replacement surgery. Want to know what the different types of knee replacement surgery are? Read our article here.

We’re now offering Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA Knee System for your knee replacement surgery. ROSA doesn't replace your skilled Surgeon, instead it provides a personalised surgical plan and assists them in placing your new joint with increased accuracy. Learn more about our ROSA-assisted total knee replacements.

5. Varicose vein pain

Our hospital is the largest provider in England for varicose vein removal (PHIN 2023). We understand the symptoms of varicose veins are very unpleasant – from muscle cramps, swollen ankles and feet to heavy and aching legs. Unfortunately, in the spring and summer, your varicose veins can feel worse in the heat as your veins dilate in hotter temperatures.

This is why the cold winter months are easier on your varicose veins as you may notice a reduction in swelling and uncomfortable symptoms. Want healthier, happier legs in time for next spring? Discover five reasons why winter is the best time to get veins treated and learn how our EVLT treatment can help.

6. Arthritic joints

Your arthritis may worsen in the cold weather and result in your joints feeling stiff, sore or even ‘creaky. If you have osteoarthritis, your joints can also feel inflamed and painful. Discover more about the most common form of arthritis and how you can be kind to your arthritic joints this winter.

Your Physiotherapist may use a range of treatments to help manage your symptoms such as exercises, shockwave therapy, taping techniques, lifestyle changes and soft tissue mobilisations.

Our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Alex Chipperfield, can also help you to understand why exercise is good for ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. Or, if you don’t have osteoarthritis, you can read our article to discover what rheumatoid arthritis is and how it’s treated.

7. Skin Problems

The cold conditions of winter plus increased use of heating in your home or workplace can trigger skin problems such as eczema and acne as there is less natural moisture in your skin. This can lead to dry skin and more clogged pores. We offer acne and eczema treatment so you don’t have to suffer with your skin.

After spending lots of time in the sunshine and experiencing a heatwave this summer, the winter months are a great time to check your moles (or pigmented lesions) for any changes. Most moles are harmless, however, if you have a mole which hasn’t healed, is bigger or has changed shape or colour, has an irregular edge, is patchy in colour or is multi-shaded/ has more than one colour or itches, bleeds or is crusty and scabbed for more than four weeks, we recommend you see your GP. Know what to look out for in your moles.

Our mole scanning service can provide you with an assessment of any moles and pigmented lesions that you are worried about and can help to identify any that might be suspicious, so your skin can be the healthiest possible in time for spring.

8. Bladder problems

Why do bladder problems often seem worse in cold weather? Why can going from a cosy, warm room out into the cold result in an urge to urinate? Why can incontinence issues seem worse after a night out, a few glasses of wine, a couple of pints of beer or a party? And do men suffer more than women? Our Consultant Urologist Mr Steve Garnett has the answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions in our article.

Mr Garnett says: “If you feel that your urinary symptoms are getting worse, or disrupting your life, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. It might be that you are tired all day because you have had to get up to pee several times during the night, or you might find that you don’t want to go out to places if you don’t know where the toilets are.”

Mr Garnett’s advice is to seek professional help sooner rather than later. Often urinary symptoms can be easily solved. Sometimes the solution is as simple as watching what you drink, or we offer a range of Urology treatments for overactive bladder and male and female stress incontinence.

9. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is probably the most common disorder diagnosed in a gastroenterology clinic. It's defined as more than six months of variable abdominal discomfort, often with bloating and a change in your bowel habits. Stomach pains or cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation can be experienced in an IBS flare up. Give your guts the attention they deserve this Christmas.

10. Ear problems

Some people experience problems with their ears which can result in difficulty with hearing, balance as well as frequent infections. If you’re suffering from earache, ear discharge, wax build-up, itching or a feeling of pressure inside the ear, you may want to see one of our ENT Consultants.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction occurs when the eustachian tube from your ear to the back of your throat is unable to equalise pressure. When pressure builds up in the middle of your ear, it can cause hearing difficulties, clogged or blocked ears and even pain. Painful or blocked ears? We can help! Or read our article to learn seven things you need to know about blocked ears.

11. Foot problems

Plantar Fasciitis is a pain on the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch which can result from an injury to your plantar fascia. Did you know that one in 10 people in the UK will suffer from the condition at some point in their lives?

There are many treatments and self-help regimes for plantar fasciitis. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories are the most obvious way to relieve symptoms. Stretching, all forms of massage (no matter how vigorous), icing, shockwave therapy, rolling on frozen bottles or spiky balls, taping and arch supports or most orthotics can also providem short-term symptom relief.

In this article our Sports Medicine Podiatrist - Mr Liam Stapletonhow to treat plantar fasciitis, recognises the onset of plantar fasciitis and identifies the possible causes.

12. Cervical problems

Calm your smear test fears by discovering our Consultant Gynaecologist and Medical Director, Mr Rowan Connell’s answers to the eight most common questions about smear tests.

“It is important that women attend their cervical screening test (also known as smear test). It is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer. Although it is a test for cancer, it’s more importantly a test to help prevent cancer by picking up early signs of pre-cancer. Most tests are now also looking for HPV a common virus which can increase the risks.

“Regular screening will help monitor any abnormal cells. The smear test takes less than five minutes, with the whole appointment taking less than 10 minutes.”

Our female health hub can offer you support and advice as you move through the different stages of your life – from coping with periods to pregnancy to menopause and beyond - your needs might change.

Access our private GP service

If you have one of the above health problems, our male and female GPs can discuss any concerns around your symptoms you may have. You’ll have a 25-minute face-to-face appointment to thoroughly discuss your health concerns. They will also arrange any tests, scans or follow-up appointments with you.

Get on top of your health ready for the new year by booking a 25-minute private GP appointment quickly and easily using our online booking system.

Published on 22 December 2023