Doctor answers the three most common questions she’s asked by patients – including why a cough is ALWAYS so much worse at night

  • Melbourne GP Dr Preeya Alexander shared the questions she is often asked
  • Dr Alexander said people often want to know why a cough gets worse at night
  • She said you feel you need to poo after eating as food is pushed through colon
  • Dr Alexander said you must always also finish a course of antibiotics 

An Australian doctor has answered the three most common questions she is asked by patients – including why a cough gets worse at night and why you always need to finish a course of antibiotics.

Dr Preeya Alexander, a GP from Melbourne who goes by The Wholesome Doctor on Instagram, said there are three things she is asked time and again by people – and they have very simple answers.

‘You guys have asked for this, so here we go,’ Dr Alexander posted on Instagram.

An Australian doctor has answered the three most common questions she is asked by patients – including why a cough gets worse at night (Dr Preeya Alexander pictured)

1. Why do you feel like you need to poo after eating?

The first question Dr Alexander said she is asked on a surprisingly regular basis is why people feel as though they need to poo straight after eating.

‘The reason why you may need to run to go to the toilet after a meal or a coffee is called the gastro-colic reflex,’ she said.

‘When food enters the stomach, it stretches and an involuntary reflex occurs – a hormone signals the colon to start contracting.’

Once your colon begins to contract, Dr Alexander said it causes your previously digested food to move through the colon, and this can in turn make you feel as though you need to poo.

‘The food you have just eaten is not “going through you”, despite what it might feel like,’ she added. 

Instead, it’s the old food that is being ‘pushed along’.

While there is research for and against shorter courses of antibiotics, Dr Alexander (pictured) said the most important thing is that you finish the course, whatever the length

2. Why should you finish the entire antibiotic course?

The seconds question Dr Alexander said she’s asked frequently is why we are always told by medical professionals that we need to finish a course of antibiotics.

‘This is a big one lots of you requested,’ the GP said.

‘We will always try to give you the shortest course of antibiotics possible to eliminate a bacterial infection – but even if you feel tip top, you should take an antibiotic as prescribed to a) completely eradicate the bacteria and b) prevent antibiotic resistance (the bugs can adapt and mutate so that an antibiotic that once killed them will not),’ she said.

Dr Alexander acknowledged that there is some debate about this question in the medical world insofar as often shorter courses of antibiotics have been shown to be equally effective as longer ones.

‘But my main tip is stick to what you are prescribed!’ she said.

You should always finish the course, whatever length it is.

‘Coughs are commonly worse at night as the air is colder and drier – and that tends to irritate the airways,’ Dr Alexander (pictured) explained

Dr Alexander’s five other reasons to see a doctor during COVID-19 

1. You have bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes, measles or high blood pressure

2. You have a chronic medical condition such as asthma

3. You notice a breast lump, rectal blood loss or unexplained weight loss

4. You require a cervical cancer screening test, formally known as a Pap smear

5. You have a scheduled vaccine or any additional ones such as measles, whooping cough or meningococcal B

3. Why does a cough get worse at night?

It’s the time of year where we’re moving into cold and flu season, but Dr Alexander said that this winter, if you have even a tickle of a cough, you should make sure you’ve been tested for COVID-19.

‘Coughs are commonly worse at night as the air is colder and drier – and that tends to irritate the airways,’ she explained.

‘You also lie flat to sleep and mucous can drip down the back of the throat which can trigger coughing.’

Dr Alexander said coughs are worse at night for these reasons, but you can aid your cough by ‘sleeping on a few pillows’ and using heat to warm the air and make sure you’re not too cold.

Of course, cough medication before you go back to sleep is also a good idea. 

To find out more about Dr Preeya Alexander, you can follow her on Instagram here

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