SAS doctor Matt Young answers your questions

Matt Young
Dr Matt Young is at your service.

Every month, Starts at 60 doctor Matt Young answers your health questions and offers a little advice along the way. If you have a question for Dr Young, email [email protected] or leave your question in the comments section below.

Trigger happy

Dear Dr Young,

I have a problem with my right index finger, which seems to have a mind of its own. It sticks up at the most inopportune times, such as when I am driving (looks like I’m pointing at oncoming drivers) and when I am stirring things on the stove. Most of the time I am not even aware it’s happening but my flatmate thinks it’s hilarious and is constantly telling me to put it down. Someone told her it could be a neurological problem, but when I spoke to my doctor about it he just laughed and said he’d never heard of anything like it and it was probably just a muscle thing. I am unable to write these days because of it and am getting quite frustrated. Even using the mouse is hard because my finger will hit the left button when it wants to. Is this something you have come across and should I be concerned or just suck it up and learn to live with it? 

Kind regards, Anonymous. 

Ad. Article continues below.

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds like you may have a trigger finger. This involves inflammation of the tendon sheath in your finger. On the good side, at least the problem is not impacting your middle finger because that may cause even more problems with oncoming drivers. I suggest you see your GP and discuss getting an Ultra Sound examination and then perhaps some cortisone to be injected into the site under Ultra Sound control. This generally works really well and will have you pointing only at the things you want to point at.

Hard up

Dear Dr Young,

Could you please advise on what medication is available on the PBS to treat erectile disfunction (ED)? I have diabetes and had a mechanical valve in my heart, thus taking Warfarin. Is Caverject available as an option on the PBS? Alternatively, what would you recommend I ask my doctor for?

Ad. Article continues below.

Thank you in advance, Paul.

Dear Paul,

Sadly, Paul, ED medications are expensive and not generally covered by the PBS. Caverject is a bit old fashioned and involves injecting the drug directly into the penis. Some people find this makes them grimace and squirm, but others don’t mind. Viagra, Cialis and Levitra all work orally and generally set you back about $50 for a packet of four. They all work about 80 per cent of the time. By the time you have wined, dined and charmed your prospective partner, another $12.50 doesn’t seem too much extra. Do your best to find the cash — she is worth it.

Tricky turmeric 

Dear Dr Young,

Ad. Article continues below.

I am 64 years old and about seven years ago was diagnosed with mild Chronic Bronchitis. I don’t have a cough or any symptoms except my breathing. My question is about turmeric. I asked my doctor the other day and she said she was aware of the health benefits, but hadn’t heard about the one I read about recently. I read that turmeric can thin down the mucus around the lung, which causes the bad breathing. I read up on everything about COPD-related illnesses so I am very interested. Being on a pension I don’t want to waste my money if it is not necessary, but am willing if there is a chance it would help. Could you please let me know what you think. It seems if you have a COPD related illness nobody wants to know. It doesn’t seem to get the research and attention other diseases get. By the way, I exercise and do everything I am told to do. I’d love to know if turmeric could really help. I have not had a cigarette in over fifteen years.
Welcome to SAS. Sorry I should have said that at the beginning.

Cheers, Fran. 

Dear Fran,

Thanks for the welcome. You are very charming. Chronic Bronchitis is almost exclusively related to smoking (active and passive). It is intimately associated with emphysema and together they are known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. The general symptoms are chronic productive cough, in other words coughing up phlegm in the morning, shortness of breath on exertion and wheeze. There are lots of puffers available from your GP to minimise these symptoms and these are very effective in the vast majority of cases. Obviously abandoning the ciggies is the single most important treatment. Well done for giving them up 15 years ago, but sadly you are paying the penalty now. That is the single most important treatment for preventing things getting worse. Staying slim, exercising well and making sure your flu and pneumonia needles are current are also pivotal. As far as turmeric is concerned, I will give you the advice I give all my patients regarding naturopath treatments. Suck it and see. Give it a trial for a month and if it helps, continue, if it doesn’t, don’t waste any more money.

Do you have a question for Dr Matt Young? Email [email protected] or leave your question in the comments below! You can request to remain anonymous if you wish.