Q: I HAVE just recently stopped smoking and I am very constipated.

Can you suggest anything I can take?

A: CONGRATULATIONS! Stopping smoking is the single most positive step you can make to improving your health. Constipation can occur when you have had a change in your lifestyle or routine.

There are some ways you can help treat it.

Increase your daily intake of fibre with fruits, vegetables and cereals

Add some bulking agents, such as wheat bran, to your diet. These will help make your stools softer and easier to pass.

Increase your fluid intake and exercise by going for a daily walk or run.

If your constipation is causing pain or discomfort, you may want to take a painkiller such as paracetamol.

Also, identify a routine of a place and time of day when you are comfortably able to spend time in the toilet.

If these diet and lifestyle changes do not help, your GP may prescribe an oral laxative.

Q: I AM a fit and healthy 44-year-old, although in the past week, I have a developed a rash on my lower legs. There are small red spots. They have eased a little, but I now have some on my inner arm. I don't know if this is related at all, but I'm feeling really sick and very light headed and I have no appetite. I just feel totally and utterly washed out. Some advice would be really appreciated.

A: IT is difficult to know what is causing the spots but it would be a good idea to get your own doctor to check things out. Some simple viral infections can cause the general symptoms you have and can produce non specific skin rashes. However there are other causes of red spotty type rashes which can require further investigation. If things are persisting, you should go for a check up.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. The main symptom is an inability to breathe in and out properly.

If you smoke, you have an increased risk of getting COPD. The condition can build up over years and does not usually become noticeable until after the age of 40. Symptoms include: 'smoker's cough'; mucus and phlegm; wheezing; shortness of breath; repeated lung and chest infections. Symptoms are often worse in the winter.

There is no cure for COPD. Treatment is mainly used to relieve symptoms. Your GP may recommend a course of treatment for you, and closely monitor how well you respond to it. The effectiveness can vary considerably from person to person.