Have you got a health concern you’d like some advice on? We’ve got our GloHealth Doctor, Dr. Conor Fitzgerald, on hand every week to answer your questions.* This week he’s talking recurring headaches and smear test worries.
Q: Hi doctor. I’ve been suffering from really bad headaches for over a month now, but I’m a bit embarrassed to go my doctor about it. It’s happening at least twice a week, and they are often so bad I need to lie down for an hour or more. My friend has suggested it might me migraines, but what’s the difference between a headache and a migraine, and so do I need to visit my own doctor?
A: I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been suffering from headaches over the past number of weeks.
Migraine is a specific type of headache that usually (but not always) is characterized by pulsing or throbbing in one area of the head. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound may accompany it. Some migraines (known as migraine with aura) are accompanied or preceded by flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg.
I don’t think it’s anything you should be embarrassed about as headache is a very common symptom in my surgery. From your description they sound severe and persistent so I do think it would be a good idea to see your GP about them.
Q: I was recently called for my first smear test and have just been told that I have to go back for retesting in six months instead of the usual three years, due to ‘abnormal cells’, what does this mean?
A: It is great to hear that you have enrolled in the smear programme and have had your first smear. As you probably know a smear test involves taking a sample of cells from the neck of your womb (your cervix) to look for early changes. The earlier cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat. It is relatively common for women to require a repeat smear test in six months due to ‘abnormal cells’. The cervix cells can have some abnormalities at times, however they often will revert back to normal after a time. The repeat smear in six months will confirm whether the abnormal cells are still present or not. This is part of national guidelines in Ireland and it is very important that you return for your repeat smear tests on the dates given to you. Further information is available atwww.cervicalcheck.ie
*If you have ongoing concerns about your symptoms, please contact your GP
Dr. Conor Fitzgerald, GloHealth Medical Council
MB BCh BAO DME MICGP
Dr. Conor Fitzgerald studied medicine at UCD, worked in Naas General Hospital and also in the Adelaide & Meath hospital, incorporating the National Childrens’ Hospital, (AMNCH) Tallaght. He trained on the Mid Leinster GP Training Scheme and worked as a GP in Wicklow. Dr. Fitzgerald is currently working in GP practice in Lucan, Co.Dublin.