Q & A

January 24, 2009

I have noticed some numbness in my feet recently. What might be causing this, and can it be treated?

I have noticed some numbness in my feet recently. What might be causing this, and can it be treated?

There are many possible causes -- some relatively minor, others more serious -- for the type of numbness you’ve experienced. Numbness may result from wearing tight-fitting shoes, a nerve injury, a vitamin deficiency, or as a side effect from some medications. But numbness can also indicate diabetes or a neurological disorder.

It’s important to contact your doctor for further evaluation. Providing details about your symptoms -- when, how often, and during what activities they occur, and whether you also have other symptoms such as fatigue or unexplained weight loss -- will help your doctor determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend any follow-up treatment, if necessary.
Sometimes as I wake up and get out of bed, I become dizzy and lightheaded when I try to stand up. Is this normal or could it be a health problem?

It’s not uncommon to feel dizzy when the body shifts quickly from one position to another. Abruptly standing up after several hours of sleep is a common cause of dizziness and lightheadedness. But in some cases, dizziness can be a symptom of a medical problem, particularly inner ear-related conditions including inflammation and fluid imbalance. You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
  • Severe headache that has not occurred before
  • High fever
  • Significant neck stiffness
  • Blurred vision, hearing loss and/or impaired speech
  • Arm or leg weakness, falling down or having difficulty walking
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

While the problem you’ve described is probably not serious, your doctor is best able to assess the possible cause of your dizziness and rule out the possibility of a serious problem.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years ago. I have been following the news about experimental stem cell treatments for Parkinson’s. Are any of these treatments likely to become available to patients in the near future?

Stem cells are a promising new approach to repairing diseased or defective tissue. There are already a few medical applications of stem cells that have been proven effective and are in use at Bumrungrad and other advanced hospitals. Around the world, research and clinical trials are testing stem cell applications for Parkinson’s and many other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and cancer.

Despite the vast potential for stem cells, there are several issues that need further study. In the case of Parkinson’s, experimental stem cell treatments have shown some benefits in relieving symptoms among patients younger than 60, but such treatments still require further study. In Thailand, the FDA and Medical Council have established guidelines for stem cell research and treatments and are working closely with clinical research agencies.

Bumrungrad International is optimistic about the future potential of stem cell treatments. Our doctors are closely following international clinical trials to determine if and when treatments prove safe and effective. We will develop capabilities and offer such treatments to our patients when they are accepted by the international medical community.     Have a question? You can submit your question for possible inclusion in future issues of Better Health, by e-mail [email protected] or by mail to Editor, Better Health Magazine, Bumrungrad International, 33 Sukhumvit 3, Wattana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand.
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