Q I am six weeks pregnant and being very sick. I have tried homeopathy, acupuncture, yoga, eating all the time, not eating all the time, hot water - nothing works. My GP said I can take an antihistamine that is safe in pregnancy and will help the nausea but I really don't want to take any drugs. What can I do?
A Ginger. Gingerbread or biscuits, ginger beer - anything with ginger in it. Seventy pregnant Thai women were divided into two groups. One group took a gram of ginger a day for four days, the others swallowed a placebo. The ginger group said they felt less sick and vomited less, the placebo group reported no change.
Blood group query
Q I read a review of a book that purported to link blood groups with diet. The reviewer dismissed these claims but did say that there was a higher risk of developing stomach cancer if your blood group is A. Is this true?
A It is not really clear why we have different blood groups - it is assumed that in evolutionary terms having a particular blood group in a particular time and place conferred some advantage in fighting infections and surviving. The commonest blood group in the UK is O, and A is the second commonest. Any evolutionary advantage has almost certainly disappeared and we are all much of muchness from a blood-group point of view. The association between blood group A and stomach cancer is weak and dates from a time when blood group was one of the few variables that could be tested for. It is possibly still true that if you take everyone with stomach cancer, you find a slightly higher than average number of people with blood group A. But if you take the huge numbers of healthy people who happen to be blood group A, it is unlikely that they have a statistically higher than average chance of developing stomach, or any other, cancer.
A nasty rash
Q I am a 19-year-old law student. I have had lots of antibiotics courses for sore throats and have never had a bad reaction. Two weeks ago, I had a particularly awful throat and could hardly swallow. I felt completely wretched and had a high temperature and swollen glands in my neck. My GP gave me amoxycillin. I then developed an itchy red rash from head to toe. I phoned NHS Direct and was told it was probably an allergic reaction and to see my GP. Why I should develop an allergy to amoxycillin?
A If your sore throat was due to glandular fever, the antibiotic may have triggered the rash because there can be a cross-reaction between the antibodies produced when you have the infection and the antibiotic itself. You could ask for a blood test called Paul-Bunnell which will tell you whether you have glandular fever. It is useful to know because if so, you can expect to feel off colour for a variable length of time - anything from one to several weeks, which may be important if you have exams looming. The virus responsible is Epstein-Barr, a member of the herpes family. It is usually a mild, though unpleasant disease from which you should make a complete recovery with no specific treatment (there is none). You can spread the virus by kissing or exchanging saliva.
Blood and water
Q I had to have a medical for an insurance policy. When the doctor tested my urine, she said it showed some blood present. I have since heard that the test showed no infection. My GP rechecked the urine and also found a small amount of blood. I was advised to ignore it but the insurance company insists I see a specialist before it issues the policy. Should I worry?
A You are probably going to have to see a urologist (waterworks specialist) or nephrologist (kidney specialist) if you want the policy. There is a big debate in medical circles among people interested in these things as to whether or not you can safely ignore painless bleeding into the urine which only shows up on testing and is not visible to the naked eye. It appears that around 10% of adults over 25 have this sort of problem, if indeed it is a problem at all. Blood tests can show that your kidneys are functioning normally and really that is all that the insurer should need to issue your policy.
These answers are intended to be as accurate and full as possible, but should never be used as a substitute for visiting a doctor and seeking medical help. If you have a question for Dr Robinson, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her c/o The Health Editor, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.