I Can't Cope

Ups and downs in life are normal, but what do you do when you really feel you can't cope? We've asked the experts for their advice on how to deal with common life crises. Check out the tips and coping strategies that could help you survive.

Ups and downs in life are normal, but what do you do when you really feel you can't cope?

We've asked the experts for advice on how best to deal with common problems that can be distressing, demoralising or embarrassing.


Q: I dread occasions like Valentine's Day because I'm plagued by unsightly cold sores. It's really affecting my efforts to date and I can't cope. What can I do?

A: Marian Nicholson from the Herpes Viruses Association says: "Don't be over-sensitive about your cold sores - they'll always seem bigger to you than anyone else. Instead try to identify the triggers that provoke a cold sore so you can try and prevent them. For some people it's lack of sleep, alcohol, a poor diet, or sunlight.

"Even during winter, sun can be bright and using a sunblock on lips may help some sufferers."

Nicholson points out that the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores is extremely common - and according to the Australian Herpes Management Forum (AHMF), around seven out of 10 people in Australia - carry it.

"Most are unaware they have it as it may lie dormant and they never notice any symptoms, and only a quarter of people get the intermittent outbreak of a cold sore on the soft skin around the lips, mouth or nose area."

According to the AHMF the main way the virus is contracted is by kissing, but can be passed on if the affected area is rubbed onto another person in different areas. For example, a person may pass the virus onto their partner through oral sex - the partner might then develop genital herpes.

Zovirax cold sore cream may help prevent a cold sore developing and speed the healing process, and is available in pharmacies.

For more information, visit www.ahmf.com.au


Q: Every winter my back plays up and I get nagging, uncomfortable pain that makes me miserable and bad tempered. I can't cope with the thought of more months of discomfort. What can I do?

A: Leading osteopath and author of The Good Back Guide, Barrie Savory, whose celebrated clients include Sean Connery and the Duke of York, says you're not alone.

"Recurrent winter backs are incredibly common," he says.

"When the body's blood circulation slows because of the drop in temperatures, any incipient lower back problem will come to fore and result in aches and pains.

"Exercise is key to increase the blood supply, which feeds the muscles that support the back. Gentle movement will also improve venous drainage so you get rid of lactic acid and toxins which can silt up the veins and slow blood flow."

Savory suggests incorporating back-boosting exercise into your day. Walk up stairs instead of using the lift, or get off the bus one stop earlier than you need to so you get a 10-minute brisk walk.

"Also, as you stand around, for instance, waiting for a kettle to boil or at a bus stop, then pull in the tummy muscles, hold the pelvic floor as if trying to stop passing water and tighten the buttock muscles. Hold for a minute, relax and repeat several times to help tone the core muscles that support the back.

"Keep the body warm by wearing lots of layers, and a heat therapy product may improve circulation and relieve joint stiffness and muscle spasms."


Q: Nowadays I spend every night awake tossing and turning with head full of worries about money. Then I'm so tired in the day I struggle to cope. What can I do?

A: Leading sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski, from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, says it's essential to confront your problems.

"If you are having bad dreams, ask yourself what is causing them," he says.

"Write down your worries on a piece of paper and keep it next to the bed and this will help stop you mentally churning them endlessly around.

"Resolve to put them aside while you rest and deal with them in the morning."

He also advises establishing a healthy sleep routine. Have a bath an hour before your bedtime have a bath, listen to soothing music, avoid alcohol and the stimulation of television, and try to go to bed at the same time each night.


Q: I've recently developed a buzzing, ringing sound in my ears that won't go away and it's driving me mad. I can't cope with it, what can I do?

A: Consultant audiological scientist David Baguley is professional advisor to the British Tinnitus Association.

"You may have tinnitus, which is a sensation of a sound in the ear, usually a ringing noise, although it can be high-pitched whistling or buzzing or hissing," he says.

"It can be very distressing and affect sleep, concentration and mood."

Tinnitus is thought to be triggered by underlying problems, including diminished hearing due to ageing, earwax, high blood pressure and anxiety, but in many cases the cause is unknown.

There are around seven million sufferers, including children and young people.

"There's a widespread belief that nothing can be done, when in fact there are a number of tried and tested approaches to therapy which can be effective," Baguley says.

"In the last three years there's been a major resurgence in research, and several approaches involving drug treatment are being investigated. The possibility of treating tinnitus using magnetic stimulation of the brain has also been tested and seems to be promising.

"Get an informed medical opinion," he advises.

"Also, many people benefit from the use of low-level environmental sound. There are many inexpensive devices that allow you to fall sleep using soothing sounds, like the sound of rain."

For more information, visit www.tinnitus.asn.au

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