I suffer from hay fever every year, and my symptoms have worsened. I've used many different treatments in the past, and would like to try something new. Is acupuncture worth a try, or anything else?
In May, the main cause of hay fever is tree pollen, followed by grass pollen from now until late August. The peak times for pollen release are early morning and late afternoon, when you are perhaps commuting. So it's difficult to avoid. I don't know of good evidence that acupuncture or alternative methods work, so I stick to the time-honoured antihistamine tablet taken every morning from mid-April to mid-August, regardless of the pollen count forecast. If you're in real trouble, a short, sharp course of a cortisone-like steroid by mouth usually breaks the cycle, but keep on with the antihistamines. Severe cases can warrant an injection of a long-lasting steroid, but in my experience, very few people need it.
My partner sometimes shouts out words uncontrollably and repeats sentences as if on a loop. The words tend to be negative, such as "horrible" or "diabolical", and names of people we know. He is embarrassed by it, and discussing it seems to make it worse, often to the point where he can't speak. As he can control it in public (he works in a call centre with no trouble), does that rule out Tourette syndrome? Could it be OCD? Should I push him to seek treatment?
It depends how much the behaviour is disturbing your relationship. To give him a label such as OCD or Tourette syndrome probably isn't helpful as it medicalises him, and that can be counterproductive – as his reaction to your trying to discuss his behaviour has proven. However, if it is becoming a big thing between you, do try to persuade him to seek help. His GP is the first step, and your partner should be prepared for a psychological (or psychiatric) assessment, which takes longer than the usual 10-minute surgery slot. Mild Tourette's or a minor form of OCD can be well managed with drugs and/or behaviour therapy, but he will have to be happy to take part, and that needs you talking together gently, with tact and no sense of blame or shame.
• Do you have a question for Dr Smith? Email email@example.com