I'M going into hospital for an operation and have to stay for about three days. Will I still be allowed to use my mobile phone there?

IT depends on the hospital’s policy on use of mobile phones. You can probably use your mobile phone in some areas of the hospital to make calls or send text messages. Communication with family and friends is important when someone is in hospital and the guidance will be there to safeguard patients’ privacy and dignity and ensure that interference from mobile phones does not stop medical equipment from working properly.

Depending on your hospital’s policy, areas where mobile phone use is allowed could include: the hospital entrance or reception communal areas such as cafés and lift lobbies and non-clinical areas on wards where direct medical care is not given. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that you’ll be allowed to charge your mobile phone while in hospital.

I HAVE recently broken my leg. How do I care for my plaster cast?

Plaster casts are made up of a bandage and a hard covering (usually plaster of Paris). They usually need to stay on your arm or leg for 4-12 weeks.

Don't get your plaster cast wet. This will weaken it and your bone will no longer be properly supported. You can use a plastic bag to cover up the cast when you have a bath or shower.

Always remove the bag as soon as you can, to avoid causing sweating, which could also damage the cast. Even if the plaster cast makes your skin feel very itchy, don't be tempted to poke anything underneath it. This could cause a nasty sore.

If you have any concerns about your plaster cast, you can call NHS 24 on 111 for 24-hour advice.

WHAT is an abscess?

An abscess is a painful collection of pus, usually caused by a bacterial infection.

When bacteria enter your body, your immune system sends infection-fighting white blood cells to the affected area.

As the white blood cells attack the bacteria, some nearby tissue dies, creating a hole which then fills with pus to form an abscess. The pus contains a mixture of dead tissue, white blood cells and bacteria.

An abscess can develop anywhere in the body but there are two common types of abscess:

•skin abscesses – which develop under the skin

•internal abscesses – which develop inside the body, in an organ or in the spaces between organs

The symptoms of an abscess can vary, depending on which type you have.

A skin abscess often appears as a swollen, pus-filled lump under the surface of the skin. You may also have other symptoms of an infection, such as a high temperature (fever) and chills.

It's more difficult to identify an abscess inside the body, but signs include pain in the affected area, a high temperature and generally feeling unwell.

Most skin abscesses are caused by bacteria getting into a minor wound, the root of a hair or a blocked oil or sweat gland. It may be possible to reduce your risk of skin abscesses through good hygiene, a healthy lifestyle and looking after your skin.

Internal abscesses often develop as a complication of an existing condition, such as an infection elsewhere in your body. For example, if your appendix bursts as a result of appendicitis, bacteria can spread inside your tummy (abdomen) and cause an abscess to form.

See your GP if you think you may have an abscess.

A small skin abscess may drain naturally, or simply shrink, dry up and disappear without any treatment.

However, larger abscesses may need to be treated with antibiotics to clear the infection, and sometimes the pus may need to be drained.