Dr Tom Smith answers your questions

My granny has tinnitus. She was told it may be related to her salt intake. If so, should she cut down on salt?

Some cases of tinnitus are caused by increased pressure within the cochlea - the fluid-filled inner ear - and this may be related to excess salt. However, such an excess would also be linked to defective kidneys (normal kidneys regulate salt balance within narrow margins) and to high blood pressure. If these don't apply to her, I don't see how her salt intake could be a cause. Causes of tinnitus include earwax, blockage of the Eustachian tube (it carries air from the back of the tonsils to the middle ear) and Ménière's disease, in which there is fluid build-up in the inner ear. With Ménière's there is usually also dizziness and deafness - does she have those, too? Simply cutting down on salt won't help any of these conditions.

When my children have high temperatures I give them Calpol (paracetamol) to cool them down, but I've been told that temperatures are good at killing off a virus. So should I hold back on the Calpol?

Paracetamol, by lowering the temperature and easing any discomfort that goes along with the infection, can help children rest and sleep more easily. That promotes healing. Fever has to be pretty high to kill off viruses - fairly close to the temperature that might harm the child - so, for moderately raised temperatures, you are unlikely to prolong a viral infection by giving paracetamol. I don't know of any studies to show that it does.

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