MY son gets a lot of colds and ear infections. The doctor has recommended he has his adenoids removed. Is this safe? I am worried about him having an operation.

There is no need to worry. Removal of the adenoids, also called an adenoidectomy, is a simple and common procedure carried out by an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon.

It takes around 15 to 30 minutes and is done as a day procedure so your son should not need to be in hospital for more than a few hours.

The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic so your son will be asleep throughout and will not feel any pain.

It may be, that as your son has had a number of infections as a result of his adenoid infection, the ENT surgeon recommends removing his tonsils at the same time or placing a grommet in the ear to help drain any fluid which could have built up. Your GP or ENT surgeon will consult with you about this prior to surgery.

I HAVE a very dry mouth lately, I feel like I have cotton wool in my mouth and I am drinking a lot of water. What could be the cause?

Having a dry mouth is very different from being thirsty but the two have very different causes and will be treated very differently too.

Thirst is the brain's way of telling you that you are dehydrated, excessive thirst can be linked to a number of other illnesses, including diabetes so if you feel that this does become a thirst issue, do see your GP.

A dry, sticky feeling in the mouth can also have a number of causes. Many are lifestyle related, such as smoking or eating spicy or salty foods. Dry mouth can be a common side effect of many prescription and non-prescription medicines so if you are on any medication, speak to your GP or pharmacist about your symptoms.

Finally, this can be a common issue for older people with one in five having a dry mouth. Chewing sugar free gum and breathing through your nose rather than your mouth can help. Good dental hygiene is important as dry mouth an lead to dental issues. Consult your dentist and use a good fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.

WHAT is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of central vision (the ability to see what is directly in front of you). It occurs when occurs when the macula (the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision) is unable to function as effectively as it used to.

Central vision is used while reading, writing or driving for example.

Macular degeneration does not affect the peripheral vision, which means that the condition will not cause complete blindness. The peripheral vision, sometimes known as "side vision", is the outer vision.

Typically, macular degeneration affects people aged over 50 and is therefore known as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

The main symptom is a blurring of your central vision. This can often occur slowly so the condition can go unnoticed until symptoms become severe.

There are two types of AMD, the most common is dry age-related macular degeneration and it can take five to 10 years before symptoms affect your daily life. If you find you need a brighter light to read, or find books more difficult to follow due to blurring text these can be early signs of dry AMD.

You may also notice colours are less vibrant or you have difficulty recognising people's faces. If these are common issue for you, speak to your GP or optician.

The second, less common type is 'wet' AMD. This can develop very quickly. In addition to other symptoms, you may get visual distortions, for example, straight lines may look wavy or crooked. You could also experience blind spots in the middle of your visual field. The longer a blind spot is left, the larger it will become so seek immediate medical assistance if you experience this.

Treating macular degeneration

There is no cure for dry AMD. Help is available to make tasks such as reading and writing easier. Getting practical help may improve your quality of life and make it easier for you to carry out your daily activities.

You may be referred to a low vision clinic. These clinics can provide useful advice and practical support to help minimise the affect that dry AMD has on your life. They can also provide magnifying lenses or large print books for example.

There are a number of treatments which can help with wet AMD but they must be started as soon as possible, once the sight has been lost, it cannot usually be restored. There are a number of treatments which will help stop the formation of proteins and new blood vessels in the eye, preventing wet AMD from worsening.