Q: I am just over two months pregnant and suffering bad morning sickness. My doctor says it’s wiser not to take drugs. Can you suggest anything that will help?
A: Around 70 to 80 per cent of pregnant women suffer nausea and vomiting, which can occur day or night, according to GP Dr Roger Gadsby MBE , associate clinical professor at Warwick Medical School. ‘Symptoms often start at around six weeks from your first missed period and usually get better by 12 weeks,’ he says. The cause is not known.
The majority of women suffer mildly, and the symptoms disappear by the third month. But up to 30 per cent get severe nausea and vomiting, which may last until week 20. It’s very unpleasant but does not put the baby at risk.
However, about one per cent of women get very severe symptoms. If you can’t keep food or drink down, contact your GP or midwife immediately. You risk becoming dehydrated and may need to go to hospital for intravenous fluids. Plenty of rest is vital.
Many doctors are reluctant to prescribe any treatment because, more than 50 years ago, the anti-nausea drug thalidomide caused severe abnormalities in a number of babies.
However, safe and effective drug treatments are now available, principally antihistamines marketed in the UK as cyclizine and promethazine. The main side effect from these is drowsiness. There are stronger prescription treatments if those do not work, but there is less research evidence for them.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has also been shown to be safe and effective. Discuss with your doctor.
Acupressure to the P6 point on the wrist could be beneficial, and has no side effects: try Sea-Band Mama, £8.15 for two bands, from Victoria Health. Go to acupuncture.org.uk for more information.
Ginger biscuits or ginger beer may help, but there has been concern from Scandinavian researchers about a theoretical risk of high doses of ginger tea or supplements in pregnancy. Talk to your doctor.
Try sucking Lillipops Iced Soothies, frozen ice pops made from natural juices. Specially formulated to alleviate morning sickness by a former sufferer, they help dilute the build-up of saliva which can cause nausea. £9.95 for 20, in five flavours, lillipops.com.
For further help, contact the Pregnancy Sickness Support Trust, pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk.
The LA glosserati’s best-tressed secret
Organic haircare line Phylia de M has got Los Angeles’s glosserati buzzing because of its ability to turn every day into a good hair day. With hair loss and damage now common, this simple range – just three products: Clean shampoo, Condition cream rinse you can leave in and Connect treatment for follicles, scalp and hair – treats the root of the problem (literally) with a herbal blend to restore health. One reader struggling with sparse, limp tresses says, ‘Two people told me my hair looked good this weekend – I almost cried with joy.’ Phylia de M Clean, £28; Condition, £30; Connect, £45, exclusively from Victoria Health.
Statins: know the risks
Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed after people have had a heart attack, and some experts say should be given to everyone over 50. However, they may cause muscle fatigue and weakness. Evidence has accumulated that this can be due to a depletion of co-enzyme Q10 (aka ubiquinone), a vitamin-like substance that provides energy for cells and acts as an antioxidant. The problem is CoQ10 shares the same pathway as cholesterol: block one, block both. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to congestive heart failure, heart attacks and hypertension. In Canada, statins must carry warnings that they may cause depletion of CoQ10. Many experts suggest that people on statins (and older people, as CoQ10 levels decrease with age) take a supplement such as Super Ubiquinol CoEnzyme Q10 by Life Extension, £20.75, from Victoria Health.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Health Revolution for Men by Dr Charles Clark and Maureen Clark (Piatkus, £12.99*) This easy-to-read guide had my male reviewer riveted. ‘The first few chapters alone are worth the price of the book, in terms of laying out persuasively the benefits of a low GI [glycaemic index] diet, and of balancing stress with proper relaxation and daily moderate exercise.’