Well Being

 A For something so common, we know very little about this. The nerve centre that, on stimulation, causes us to sneeze lies in the area of the brain at the top of the spinal cord, the medulla oblongata.

The centre is part of the ‘parasympathetic’ nervous system that helps to control the production of mucus in the nose and throat, the reaction of the stomach and gut to food, pupil dilation, heart rate, and blood flow to the sexual organs. In theory, when the parasympathetic nerves are in full flow, this can produce a sneeze. So bright light, drinking a whisky or even orgasm can provoke one. 

Q We are always hearing that we get fat because we eat more than we should and exercise less. But aren't some people fat for other reasons?
AThe commonest cause is low thyroid gland function, but the link is still tenuous and there are usually other signs that make the diagnosis more obvious. Then there is Cushing's syndrome, in which the extra weight is laid down on the back and torso — it's due to overactive adrenal glands. Polycystic ovary syndrome produces obesity linked with over-production of androgens (male sex hormones).

Drugs can put on weight, among them steroids, certain anti-psychotic drugs (such as clozapine and olanzapine), some anti-Aids drugs and some of the newer agents for type 2 diabetes. If you think one of these may have caused your weight gain, see your doctor, but don't hold out too much hope — they are all rare.

Your Questions
Every week, Living will feature an interactive column, ‘Well-being’,
where your questions on health,
fitness, diet and nutrition will be answered by experts.
Send your questions to
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