Jaw pain can be uncomfortable and concerning, but there are methods to relieve it
What can I do to relieve the pain?
Is it caused by arthritis? A The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) lies in front of the ear on each side, where the mandible or jaw bone connects to the skull.
It’s the joint that is used when you open and close your mouth.
Problems with the TMJ are common and affect one in four people.
Issues can be caused by tension in the jaw muscles which is more likely to occur if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth a lot.
Do you often suffer from a clicking jaw and pain? You may have TMJ
Constantly chewing gum or biting your nails can also put a strain on the jaw muscles.
The other cause of pain in the jaw is a problem with the joint itself, either osteoarthritis, where the cartilage cushions protecting the bones become worn away or inflammation inside the joint.
This may be due to rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
The best treatment depends on the underlying cause, so make an appointment to see either your GP or your dentist.
Scheduling a doctors appointment is an important step towards identifying what is causing your pain
Q Since June this year I have noticed a clear sticky solution oozing from both of my ears that dries to form a white crusty substance. It is not painful.
What could be causing this?
A The most likely cause is inflammation of the ear canal, the passage that leads from the lobe to the ear drum.
The most common cause is an infection and this often starts after you get dirty water in your ears, for example from outdoor swimming.
Poking around in your ears with cotton wool buds can make the problem worse.
Ear discharge can be an indicator of ear canal inflammation, which should be checked out
But in some cases an allergy is to blame.
This may be due to hair products which contain chemicals that irritate the delicate lining of the canal.
Sometimes skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis can affect the ear canal and lead to inflammation and a discharge.
See your GP or practice nurse, who will be able to examine your ears and prescribe treatment.
Hair products can cause ear canal irritation, which can also cause leaks
Q I am an 85-year-old man who has a permanent urethral catheter.
I have been told it might be better to change to a suprapubic catheter but this would involve a hospital stay and a general anaesthetic (GA).
Given the risks for people of my age of having a GA I feel rather nervous about going ahead with the procedure.
Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
A catheter is used to ease passing urine, subrapubic catheters are less prone to blockage
A You haven’t said why you are stuck with a catheter but in older men the most common reason is an enlarged prostate, which means you are unable to pass urine naturally.
A catheter is a small tube made out of latex or silicone which is passed into the bladder, either via the urethra (a passage leading to the outside through the penis) or directly through the lower part of the tummy wall: a suprapubic catheter.
All catheters can develop problems, such as getting blocked or failing, and having a catheter does mean you are more at risk of getting a urinary tract infection.
The main advantage of suprapubic catheters is patients often find them more comfortable, easier to look after and they are less likely to get blocked.
Spinal anaesthetic is a good alternative to GA which will leave you conscious but numbed
Having one inserted does involve a small operation and although this is usually done under a general anaesthetic it is possible to have it done under spinal anaesthetic.
This involves having an injection into your back which leaves you awake but you will feel nothing below your waist.
Without knowing your medical history and the medications you are taking it is impossible for me to advise whether the operation would be risky in your case.
But it would be unusual for a doctor to recommend an operation to someone if they did not think they are medically fit to undergo the procedure.
I suggest you have a chat with your GP who should know you well enough to give more specific advice about the pros and cons in your case.
Your GP knows you medically, so advice from them should see you on the right track
You recently answered a question from a gout sufferer (October 31).
This condition can be a family affair as my grandfather, father and I have all fallen victim to it.
I was once given phenylbutazone tablets which were a brilliant cure for me.
They’re no longer prescribed for humans because of the side effects.
My wife has since read that they’re given to horses for muscular problems but I have yet to neigh and gallop around car parks.
K Gibbs, Swindon, Wilts