Author Archives: Ramon.KGS

Stomach

The stomach and duodenum are very important parts of the gastrointestinal system. The cardiac valve at the lower end of the oesophagus leads into the stomach, a dilated part of the bowel, which leads into the duodenum via the pyloric valve. The relatively short duodenum in turn proceeds into the start of the very lengthy small bowel.

The stomach is important, for here digestion really commences. Powerful glands in the wall of the stomach pour forth a variety of fluids that act forcibly on the food as soon as it enters. Under the powerful dissecting microscope, the stomach lining has the appearance of a lattice caused by the opening of myriads of gastric glands. Near the cardiac valve, these glands produce chiefly mucus, a thick, heavy fluid, rather jellylike in nature. (This material is often seen in vomitus.)

The greater part of the stomach walls contain glands that actively secrete hydrochloric acid, pepsinogen and other chemicals. These all play a part in food digestion. Toward the far end of the stomach, the glands produce a powerful chemical called gastrin. The presence of food activates the production of gastrin, which in turn causes the other glands to secrete their gastric juices, and so aid digestion. Controlled by Nervous System But apart from this, most of the glands are under the direct action of the nervous system (the computer like mechanism we talked of earlier). This may also regulate gastric-juice production.

Most people are aware of the effect that mental tensions, anxieties and stresses have upon the stomach. Acting through the nervous system, potent gastric juices (containing all the components mentioned) may be liberated in force.

This is probably one reason why such a high incidence of ulcers attaches to occupations in which stress and mental turmoil are an everyday accompaniment. The stomach and duodenum are sites for some very important pathological processes. Peptic ulcers (that means a break in the mucosal lining) are very common, particularly in the duodenum.

Also, the stomach, being the place where all food and fluid intake must go as the first port of call, is subjected to all manner of abuses. Therefore, dietetic indiscretions (foolish food items, excesses of alcohol and other irritants, acid from cigarette smoking) frequently play a major part in producing adverse symptoms. Not only may they help to cause ulcers, but general inflammation of the lining walls (gastritis) can readily take place.

Infections also may gain entry into the intestinal system through this route. One of the system’s most lethal forms of cancer, carcinoma of the stomach, occurs here. Unfortunately, as with oesophageal cancer, symptoms appear usually when it is too late to provide an effective cure.

Urticaria


What is Urticaria?

Hives are localized skin reaction indicating that fluid is collecting (edema). They usually appear suddenly and arc whitish-pink in colour. They may he small or large, and single hives may coalesce with neighboring ones to form a large area of inflamed surface. (This is called “giant hives” or angioneurotic edema.)

The itch is often marked and there is a persistent desire to scratch. But this brings little satisfying relief and often produces further infection later. Sometimes itch is minimal.

The lesions vary in the time they persist. This may be from a few hours to days or even weeks.

Urticaria Causes

Generally hives are a manifestation of an allergy. A product called histamine is liberated by the cells, and this produces the swelling, irritation and itch. The factors producing this sensitivity are many.

The possible ones include:

Sensitising drugs. Practically any medication is capable of producing an allergic reaction in a susceptible person. For example pain-reducing preparations (aspirin etc), antibiotics (particularly penicillin, but others as well), sulpha drugs, antihistamines and many others. Sensitizing foods. Many foodstuffs may produce allergic skin eruptions. Some of the common offenders include wheat products, milk, eggs, pork, fish, shellfish and crustaceans, tomatoes, strawberries and chocolates.

Physical factors. Extremes of heat and cold are fairly common in producing urticarial reactions. (For example, after a hot shower, or a swim in a very cold surf or pool, eruptions can suddenly appear.) Other general factors. Chronic infections, foci of infection (such as bad teeth or tonsils), anaemias, and a similar list of “poor health” conditions have also been incriminated. They may play a part in certain people.

Urticaria Treatment

The occurrence of hives is fairly easy to diagnose, and many people have experienced them on many occasions before. Most cases are simple, and home remedies often bring prompt relief.

Local applications

Cool (or sometimes ice-cold) packs often bring soothing relief from the itch, heat and discomfort. Apply often (but discontinue if there is any worsening). Simple lotions and creams containing an antipruritic (anti-itch) product often give relief if the irritation and itch is excessive (for example, calamine liniment containing benzocaine 3 per cent and camphor 1 per cent). Many commercial products are available for this purpose (eg Dermocaine).

Antihistamine creams do not afford much relief (as would he expected). Antihistamines. In simple cases, an antihistamine tablet will often bring quick relief. The non-sedating brands arc best, for this will not cause drowsiness and will enable a good result without the risk of becoming drowsy while driving or working. Terfenadine (“Teldane”) tablets and astemizole (“Hismanal”) tablets do not induce sleepiness and are worthwhile.

However, if sleepiness is not a problem, any of the older antihistamines are suitable. Many brand names are now available over the counter.

Mild laxative

This often assists to eliminate the cause from the system, particularly if the hives appear suddenly and tend to persist. “Coloxyl” or “Colox: with Senna,” or paraffin and its various commercial products are all effective Natural products include psyllium fibre (“Metamucil” powder in water) or taking processed bran with your morning  breakfast cereal. “Durolax” an “Granacol” are also effective. Drinking plenty of fluids (especially water) is quick way of eliminating toxins from the system, or diluting them in the gut.

Diet.

Many people are aware of the foods that produce symptoms. During outbreak it is wise to eliminate the foods  listed above that could cause trouble. Stick to simple foods for a few days.

Medication.

Do not take any medication unless under doctor’s orders. Even if on medication, and relief is not  forth coming, it is wise to have this reevaluated by your physician. You may allergic to some of the items taken.

Further Treatment.

Simple hives often respond quickly and effectively to simple routines. If they persist, or if they become more marked, if they tend to blister or the irritation becomes annoying, further medical advice may be required. Sometimes acute widespread complications take place. Two major complications requiring immediate medical attention a – commencement of hoarseness sudden- or a harsh noise coming from the box, especially if associated with respiratory difficulty and “Anaphylactic. shock,” in which there is uneasiness a feeling of faintness, headache throbbing in the ears. This requires prompt treatment by a doctor.

Adrenaline by injection by the physician may be required and steroid therapy may also be necessary in certain cases. Further investigation is needed if the response persists.

How to Use a Paintbrush

The paintbrush is the most versatile and widely used tool for applying paint. Choose the brush size to match the surface that you are painting. For example, for painting glazing bars (muntins) on windows or narrow moldings on a door, use a slim brush or perhaps a cutting-in (sash) brush if you are painting up to an unpainted surface, such as glass, where a near edge is needed. For expansive, flat areas, select larger brush for good coverage. Get rid of any loose bristles in a new brush by flicking it vigorously across the palm of your hand before using it. Wash previously used brushes that have been stored unwrapped to remove any dust or other debris from the bristles, and leave them to dry out before using them to apply a solvent based paint.

Paint rollers are generally used to apply water based (latex) paints to large, flat areas such as walls and ceilings. Choose a sleeve with a short pile for painting plaster, a medium pile for painting embossed or textured wall coverings, or a long pile for sculpted surfaces such as those created with textured finishes (texture paints).Rollers can also be used to apply solvent based (oil) paint to flat surfaces such as flush doors, but tend to leave a distinctive ‘orange-peel’ texture rather than the smooth finish left by a brush.

There are some drawbacks with paint rollers: they cannot paint right up to internal comers or wall/ ceiling angles, so these need to be painted first with a brush or pad. They can also splash if ‘driven’ too fast, and the sleeves take a good deal of time and effort to clean thoroughly, especially if they have been used for a long period and there is dried paint in the pile.

Paint pads tend to apply less paint per coat than either a brush or a roller, so an additional coat may be needed in some circumstances, but they make it easy to apply paint smoothly and evenly with no risk of brush marks.

PREPARING THE PAINT

  1. Tie a length of string or wire across the mouth of the paint kettle. To load the brush, dip it into the paint, but only to about one third of the bristle depth. An overloaded brush will cause drips, and paint will run down the handle. Use the stung or wire to scrape excess paint from the bristles.
  2. Apply the paint to the wood in long, sweeping strokes, along the grain, until the brush begins to run dry. Load up the brush with more paint and apply it to the next area. Blend the paint using short, light strokes, again along the grain direction, so that no join is visible.
  3. Repeat this process while working your way across the whole area to be painted, always blending the edges of adjacent areas together using light brushstrokes.
  4. At edges and external corners, let the brush run off the edge to avoid a build up of paint on the corner. Repeat the process for the opposite edge.

USING A BRUSH

  1. Wipe the lid to remove any dust, then prise it off with a wide lever such as the back via table knife to avoid damage to the lip. Decant the paint into a paint kettle or small bucket. This will be easier to kindle than a full container.
  2. Remove any paint skin from partly used containers. Strain the paint into the paint kettle through a piece of old stocking or tights (panty hose), or a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), to filter.

USING A ROLLER

  1. Pour some paint (previously strained if from an old can) into the roller tray until the paint level just laps tip to the sloping section. Slide a sleeve on to the roller.
  2. Brush a band of paint about 5 cm/ 2 in wide into internal corners and wall/ceiling angles, around doors and windows, and above skirting (baseboards).
  3. Load the roller sleeve with paint by running it down the sloping section of the paint, then roll it tip and down the slope to remove the excess.
  4. Start applying the paint in a series of overlapping diagonal strokes to ensure complete coverage of the surface. Continue until the sleeve runs dry.
  5. Re-load the sleeve and tackle the nest section in the same way. Finish off by blending the areas together, working parallel 1’0 corners and edges.

USING A PAINT PAD

  1. Pour sonic paint into the special applicator tray and load the pad by running it backwards and forwards over the ridged trading roller.
  2. On walls, apply the paint in a series of overlapping parallel bands. Use a small pad or a special edging pad (see step 4) to paint right up to corners or angles.
  3. Use smaller pads for painting narrow areas such as moldings on doors or ginning bars (muntins) on windows, brushing out the paint along the direction of the grain.
  4. Special edging pads are designed for painting right up to internal angles, and leave small wheels which guide the pad along the adjacent surface as you work.
  5. Some larger pads can be fitted to an extension pole to make it easier to paint ceilings and high walls. Make sure than the pad is attached securely.

USING AEROSOL PAINT

Aerosol paints and varnishes are ideal for hard to decorate surfaces such as wicker work. Always follow the maker’s instructions when using them.

How to Use Fresh Ingredients

Fresh ingredients are essential to a healthy, balanced diet, and we are now encouraged to eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. Vitamin C is found almost exclusively in fruit and vegetables and because it cannot be stored by the body, levels need to be topped up continually.

Fruit and vegetables are also extremely rich in fiber, particularly when eaten with the skin in tact. High-protein foods such as meat, game, poultry and eggs contain many other essential nutrients. Use frozen produce when fresh is not available; it is perfectly acceptable from a nutritional point of view.

Fresh ingredients

Fresh Fruit

Fruits are very versatile and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, on their own or as part of a recipe. They are also good sources of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C. A piece of fresh fruit makes a quick and easy, nutritious snack at any time of the day. Try topping whole wheat breakfast cereals with some fruit such as raspberries for a tasty and nutritious start to the day.

Fresh Vegetables

Vegetables are nutritious and are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals, some being especially rich in vitamins A, C and E. Vegetables also contain some dietary fiber and those that are particularly good sources include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, fennel, okra, parsnips, spinach, spring greens (collard) and sweet corn. Vegetables are also very versatile and many can be eaten either raw or cooked. Add vegetables to dishes such as soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and salads, or simply serve them on their own, raw or lightly cooked and tossed in a little lemon juice.

Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the world and are valuable in terms of nutrition. They are high in carbohydrate, low in fat and contain some Vitamin C and dietary fiber. Wash old and new potatoes thoroughly and cook them with their skins on, for example baked, boiled and roasted. The flavor will be just as delicious and you will be getting extra fiber.

Potatoes are very versatile and are used in many dishes. Mashed potatoes (with their skins left on, of course) make an ideal topping for pies and bakes. For roast potatoes use a minimum amount of oil, and if you like to make chips, leave the skins on and cut the chips thickly using a knife. With baked and mashed potatoes avoid adding high fat butter, soured cream or cheese and instead use skimmed milk, reduced fat hard cheese and herbs to add flavor.

Fresh Beans and Other Pulses

There are many varieties of fresh beans and pulses available, either fresh or canned, including peas, broad (lava)beans and runner beans, and more unusual ones such as fresh flageolet beans, black-eyed (peas) beans and butter (wax) beans. Fresh corn on the cob and sweet corn are also popular.

All are good sources of dietary fiber and contain other nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Beans and pulses are very versatile and can be used in many dishes including hot and cold salads, stir-fries, casseroles, pasta sauces, soups and curries. Some varieties, such as sugar-snap peas and mangetouts (snow peas) can be eaten either raw or lightly cooked.

Eggs

Virtually a complete food and extremely versatile, eggs provide protein, iron, zinc and vitamins A, B and E.

Fish

Increasingly research points to the great benefits gained from a diet high in fish. All fish is rich in protein, B vitamins and minerals; white fish is very low in fat. Oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout and salmon, also provide vitamins A and D and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are believed to be beneficial in helping to prevent coronary heart disease.

Poultry

A good source of quality protein, B vitamins and some iron, poultry is also low in fat, particularly if the skin is removed.

Meat and Game

Although the general health advice is to moderate your intake of red meat, thus reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet, red meat is still the best source of readily absorbed iron, zinc and B vitamins. Meat today is much leaner than it used to be, and it fits the profile for a healthy diet if it is cooked with low-fat cooking methods.

Storing

Because nutrients in fresh foods, especially valuable vitamins, deteriorate as food ages it is important to always buy the freshest and best quality available. Storing the food correctly at home will also ensure that the minimum of nutrients are lost before they are eaten. Whilst some fruit and vegetables can be kept at room temperature, they will not last for long in a hot kitchen and should be stored in a cooler environment. Quickly perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products should be stored in a refrigerator.
A freezer is useful for keeping many fresh foods longer term. You can buy them when they are plentiful and cheap for the freezer, using them when they become out of season or more expensive in the shops. Follow the freezer manufacturer’s instructions for storing and blanch fruit and vegetables as required.

Storing Fresh Fruits

Those fruits that can be kept at room temperature while still unripe include apricots, kiwi fruits, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples and plums. Once ripe, refrigerate and eat within 2-3 days.

Fruits that can be stored at cool room temperature include apples (although they will be crisper if refrigerated), bananas, dates, grapefruit and oranges. Apples can be kept at room temperature for a few days, dates for several weeks, and grapefruit and oranges for up to a week. Unless you intend to eat them on the day of purchase, refrigerate fully ripe and perishable fresh fruits. These include berries, cherries, figs, grapes, lemons, limes, melons, pomegranates and tangerines. They can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Storing Fresh Vegetables

Like fruits, there are some vegetables that can be stored at room temperature. A dark, cool place (about 10°C/50°F) with good ventilation is ideal, however. Suitable vegetables are garlic, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes, swede and pumpkin can be kept for about 2 months. Store tomatoes at room temperature until they are ripe, after that, refrigerate.
Perishable vegetables should be refrigerated. Some, such as peas or sweet corn, should be used quickly, while others like carrots or cabbage, can be kept for a longer period. In most cases, do not wash the vegetable until just before using. Celery, frisee, escarole, spring greens (collard), herbs, lettuce, spinach and watercress should be washed before storage.

Cold Storage

All foods kept in the refrigerator or freezer should be well wrapped or stored in sealed containers. This preserves flavor and moisture, and prevents the flavors and odors of other, stronger foods being transferred. It is essential to keep raw meat and poultry well wrapped as their drippings can transfer bacteria to other foods.

Perishable fresh foods, such as meats, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, cheese and other dairy products, and many fruits and vegetables must be kept refrigerated at a temperature ofI-5°C/35-40°F. For longer storage, many can also be frozen at 18°C/0°F or lower. Cooked leftovers must also be refrigerated or frozen. Use a special thermometer to check temperatures; integral thermostats often give false readings over time. If temperatures are too high, food will spoil rapidly

Exposure to the Cold

Exposure to the cold on a normal basis is harmless especially when properly clothed. However, once the body receives prolonged, unusual or unprotected exposure to excessive cold temperatures it will begin to experience stresses on its normal functions that can lead to serious complications. Hypothermia is one such condition.

Being immersed in ice cold water or in areas that are cold can force the body’s temperatures to drop significantly and hypothermia can set in within minutes. Wet clothing in cold environments is also a common cause since this helps to rapidly remove the body’s natural heat. Infant and small children have a high susceptibility to hypothermia.

The reason the conditions sets in so quickly is the simply fact that the human body as a very narrow temperature window or range in which its metabolism, central nervous system and physiological functions can operate. When the body loses heat several internal responses occur in a bid to maintain temperatures close to 98.6 98.6°F or 37°C which is noted as the body’s core temperature.

The body makes an attempt to preserve the heat present in vital organs like the lungs, heart and brain by diverting its blood flow to the upper parts of the body. The lower limbs and hands become cold before other areas do. Once cold, the muscles in these areas begin to contract involuntarily to produce a motion know as ‘shivering’ which is actually the body’s natural defense against the cold air around it. The feet, legs, arms and hands are therefore built to handle the cold better than the areas that the blood is redirected to.

Symptoms and Treatment for Exposure to Cold

Once hypothermia starts to set in, symptoms such as loss of coordination, staggering, lethargy, numbness, weakness, sleepiness, inappropriate behavior and confusion present themselves. Moving victims to warmth is the best treatment since getting the temperature outside the body back to normal will stop damages and the condition from progressing as well as restore the body to its natural state. Depending on the length of exposure or the dramatic difference in temperature between outside and inside the body, higher than normal heat may be needed.

In the event that removal is impossible, victim should be sheltered from cold winds and where possible wet clothing should be changed. Once not immersed in icy water, victim can be placed in a sleeping bag to generate heat. Someone unaffected by the temperature can join the victim thereby contributing to the process with their own body heat. In the absence of a bag, multiple jackets, towels and body heat can be used instead. If symptoms continue, consciousness is lost or victim was immersed in water, rush person to the nearest emergency hospital.

Frostbites (hardened, numb skin that is often white) can be caused by exposure to cold as well. It frequents the toes, fingers, ears and nose because these tend to be exposed or have a limited blood supply. Remove victims from cold; try thawing frozen areas with warm (not hot) water or compresses. Immerse body in a tub of warm water if affected area is extensive or numerous. Avoid direct heat since areas can still burn and do not rub or irritate them. An Acetaminophen (pain killer) can be given if pain occurs in thawed areas. Keep the body warm until normalcy is returned.

The best way to deal with exposure to the cold is to dress appropriately for it. Both conditions can easily be treated however, in extenuating circumstances, death or loss of affected body parts (necessary amputation or deadening of area) can result.

What Are The Endocrine Glands?

Endocrinology is the study of a strange set of organs that produce important chemicals called hormones. These are pumped directly into the bloodstream, and rapidly circulate to all parts of the system. Most of the glands produce more than one chemical. Indeed, some, such as the pituitary gland, can produce a large number. Each hormone has a specific function. The remarkable thing is that the hormones seem to know exactly where to go and what to do.

There is usually a fine balance between the activities of the various chemicals. This is all aimed at keeping the body as near to normal as possible, and functioning with the minimum amount of discomfort. Indeed, considering the huge number of chemicals involved in the function of the system, it is amazing. The endocrine glands are all largely under the control of the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. These two areas form part of the brain. near its base, and together act as “captain of the ship.” They produce hormones that in turn govern the production and activity of other hormones produced in other regions of the body. They can have an overriding effect. They are close together, and actually the hypothalamus is the reins that check, activate and regulate the pituitary.

Although there is no direct conscious control over these glands by the individual, certain mental states, such as tensions and stresses and other psychological conditions, may indirectly influence the hypothalamus, so in a sense there is some indirect form of control.

In ordinary health the normally functioning glands pump out measured amounts of their hormones each 24 hours. Sometimes there is a so-called circadian distribution of production. This means it may vary during the 24-hour cycle of the day. In other areas it may be on a longer-term basis, such as in the ovaries of the female, where a 28-day cycle tends to occur.

In indifferent health, usually due tosome disease process, the endocrines will produce an altered amount of chemical. There may be either overactivity or underactivity of production. In turn, this will have dire repercussions on the total system. With some, it will dramatically alter the production rate of other hormones or affect general bodily function in startling ways. The most serious cause for these irregularities is when tumours (grave if these are cancerous) commence growing in the glands.

The next gland coming down from the hypothalamus and pituitary is the thyroid. This is situated in the neck at roughly the level of the Adam’s apple. It produces thyroid hormones that in turn exert powerful influences directly on the body. They also affect the other endocrine glands of the system.

Located behind the thyroid gland, and indeed deeply embedded in its back wall, are four small, rounded organs called the parathyroids. These are concerned with calcium and phosphorus metabolism. In this way they radically affect the bones, their rate of growth and general solidarity – a vital factor to normal living.

Sitting on top of the kidneys at the back of the abdominal cavity are the adrenal glands. Each consists of an outer part or cortex, and an inner part or medulla. These two sections produce important hormones. Cortisone comes from the cortex and is well-known for its vital effect on the system. It also produces hormones that affect blood pressure, and the medulla produces adrenaline, essential in giving the body its ability to cope with situations demanding “fight or flight.” The gonads are the major differentiating glands of the sexes, and are commonly called the sex glands. In females they govern the onset of the secondary sexual characteristics, and also control menstruation and the ability to become – and remain – pregnant.

In males, apart from ensuring pubertal development, the testes produce male hormone and the sperms, the male cells of reproduction.

Finally. the pancreas is located in the abdominal cavity, and its main claim to fame is in producing insulin. Deficient supplies produce a disease syndrome called diabetes mellitus, commonly known as sugar diabetes. Unless treated. many cases could quickly end fatally. But treatment can now maintain a person in near-normal health for a good long life. Generally speaking, the study of the endocrines is a very complex one.

Doctors who study this aspect of medicine usually do so in special clinics attached to major hospital units equipped with full facilities to investigate patients. Diagnosis is often difficult. Treatment is no simple matter in most cases. It usually has to be regulated very carefully. The doctors who do this are called endocrinologists. Diabetes too, although often patient-treated, must be under strict medical supervision. but it is one of the few disorders in which the patient is encouraged to take a close part in the actual administration of therapy, such as giving insulin if this is needed. The endocrines are a fascinating study and have attracted some of the best brains in medicine.

As more research is being carried out, more knowledge is being gained. Recent development of sensitive methods for detecting very small quantities of hormones in the blood have been developed. One such method is radioimmunoassay. This is opening vast new areas, for often until the doctors know more about chemical levels in the blood, diagnosis and treatment are delayed.

There are many practical repercussions from all this. For example. infertility (the inability to conceive) is an increasingly common problem in many women after they have taken the oral contraceptive pill for awhile; there are also other unknown reasons. To date treatment had been poor and relatively ineffective. But radioimmunoassay revealed that these women often have a higher-than-normal level of prolactin in their bloodstream. This is a hormone produced by the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

With this knowledge, the doctors have developed a drug called bromocriptine that effectively lowers plasma prolactin levels. The result is that many infertile women may now become pregnant – often within a few months of diagnosis – by taking bromocriptine. This is merely one indication of the value of increased knowledge in this exciting and rewarding field.

It is pointed out that many cases of endocrine disorder give rise to odd symptoms. If any of these are recognised, do not try to treat yourself. Get along to a doctor, who in turn may refer you to an endocrinologist if it appears to be warranted. Here correct diagnosis and treatment will be readily available. Home therapy, as a general rule. has no place in the treatment of endocrine disorders

How to Prepare to Paint a House

Remove areas of flaking paint using a scraper or filling knife (putty knife),and then either touch in the bare area with more paint or fill it flush with the surrounding paint film by using fine filler (spackle). Sand this smooth when it has hardened then use a clean cloth moistened with white spirit (paint thinner) to remove dust from recessed moldings and other awkward comets.

If knots are showing through on painted woodwork, sand back to bare wood and apply knotting (shellac) to the knot, then prime and undercoat to bring the new paint film level with the surrounding paintwork and sand between coats. Resinous knots may produce stains which can only be prevented by drying out the knots with a blowtorch.

Stripping Paint

Every time a surface is re-painted, a little more thickness is added to the paint layer. This does not matter much on wall or ceiling surfaces, but on woodwork (and, to a lesser extent, on metalwork) this build-up of successive layers of paint can eventually lead to the clogging of derail on moldings.

More importantly, moving parts such as doors and windows start to bind and catch against their frames. If this happens, it is time to strip back to bare wood and build up a new paint system. There are two methods of removing paint from wood and metal surfaces. The first is using heat, traditionally from a blowtorch but nowadays more often from an electric heat gun. The second is to use a chemical paint remover, which contains either dimethylene chloride or caustic soda. Heat works well on wood (although it can scorch the surface), but is less successful on metal because the material conducts heat away as it is applied. Chemicals work well on all surfaces, but need handling with care; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.

USING A HEAT GUN

  1. Spray the air stream from the heat gun over the surface to soften the paint film. Scrape it off with a flat scraper as it bubbles up, and sit the hot scrapings in an old metal container
  2. Use a shave hook (triangular scraper) instead of a flat scraper to remove the paint from moldings. Take care not to scorch the wood if you intend to varnish it afterwards.
  3. Remove any remnant of paint using wire wool soaked in white spirit and paint working along the grain. Use a hand vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining loose particles paint.
  4. Sand the wood to remove any raised fibers, and then wipe it over with a cloth moistened with white spirit. Seal the resin in any exposed knots by brushing on liquid knotting (similar) and leave to dry.
  5. Apply a coat of wood primer or other recommended primer/undercoat to the stripped wood surface. This will provide optimum adhesion for the subsequent top coats, ensuring a really great finish.

FILLING DEFECTS IN WOOD

  1. Fill splits and dents in wood using filler (spackle) on surfaces that are already painted, and tinted wood stopper (patched) on new or stripped wood that you intend to finish with a coat of varnish.
  2. Use the corner of a filling knife (putty knife), or a finger, to work the filler into recesses and other awkward to reach places. Smooth the excess filler before it dries and hardens.
  3. When the filler or wood stopper has hardened completely, use a piece of fine grade sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block to sand down the repair until it is flush with the rest of the wood.

USING LIQUID REMOVER

  1. Wear rubber gloves and old clothing. Decant the liquid into a polythene (polyethylene) container or an old can, then brush it on to the surface to be stripped. Leave it until the paint bubbles.
  2. Use a flat scraper or shave hook (triangular scraper) as appropriate to remove die softened paint. Deposit the scrapings safely in an old container.
  3. Neutralize the stripper by washing down the surface with water or white spirit (paint thinner), as recommended by the manufacturer and leave it to dry.

USING PASTE REMOVER

  1. Paste remover is especially good for removing paint from intricate moldings because it dries very slowly. Apply the paste liberally to the surface
  2. Give the paste plenty of time to work, removing paint from intricate moldings especially on thick paint layers, then scrape because it dries very slowly. Apply the paste it off. Wash down the surface with plenty of liberally to the surface.

HOME-MADE PASTE REMOVER

Add caustic soda to water until no more will dissolve. Thicken to a paste with oatmeal and use as for proprietary paste remover. Be particularly careful when using this corrosive solution. If it splashes on the skin, rinse at once with plenty of cold water.

Installing Crown Molding

There are 3 types of decorative cornice commonly used in today’s homes. The first type is roving, a relative of sheet plasterboard (gypsum hoard), which consists of a concave hollow-hacked plaster core sheathed in a strong paper envelope. It is fixed in place with adhesive. The second is molded cornice; this is made either from traditional fibrous plaster or from modern foamed plastics to imitate the ornate decorative cornices often found in older buildings, and comes in a range of profiles. Plaster types must generally be secured in place with screws because of their weight, but plastic types can simply be stuck in position with adhesive. The third type is a machined wooden trim with a similar profile to plasterboard cornice, and is either nailed direct to the wall framing or to a nailing strip or barren (furring strip) in the angle of the wall and ceiling.

Apart from its decorative appearance in framing the ceiling, a cornice can also help to conceal unsightly cracks. These often open up around the ceiling perimeter as the ceiling expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, or as the building settles.

FITTING A CORNICE (CROWN MOLDING)

  1. Hold a length of cornice squarely in the wall/ceiling angle and draw 2 guidelines on the wall and ceiling surfaces. Cut any mitred edges.
  2. Remove any old wall coverings from between the guidelines by dry scraping them. Cross hatch painted or bare plaster to key the surface.
  3. Either mix up powder adhesive or use already mixed type. Using a flat scraper ‘butter’ the adhesive on to both edges of the rear of the cornice.
  4. Press the length into place between the guidelines, supporting it if necessary with partly driven masonry nails. Remove the nails (if used) once the adhesive has set.
  5. Fit the adjacent corner piece next. Here, the next section also incorporates an external mitre; measure and cut this carefully before fitting the length.
  6. Complete the external comer with a further length of cornice, hurting the cut ends closely together and ensuring that the length fits between the lines.
  7. Fill any slight gaps at external and internal angles with a little cellulose filler(spackle), applied with a filling knife (putty knife) to leave a crisp, clean joint, sand the filler smooth once it has hardened.
  8. Before the adhesive hardens, use a damp sponge to remove any excess from wall and ceiling surfaces and also to smooth over the filled joints.

CUTTING A CORNICE (CROWN MOLDING)

  1. Make up a large mitre block big enough to hold the cornice, and use this and a tenon saw to make accurate 45° cuts for internal and external corners.
  2. Some cornice manufacturers supply a paper template that enables cutting lines to be marked accurately for internal and external corners.
  3. When using cut pieces to complete a wall, mark off the length required directly, square a line across the cornice with a pencil and cut it to length.

Preparing Garden Soil

The key to any successful gardening is good soil preparation. Inadequate attention to preparation at the outset is difficult to remedy once the plant has put down its roots and become established.

First of all, it is extremely important to clear the soil of perennial weeds. If only one piece of many of these remains, it will soon re-grow and, if the roots become entwined in those of the climber, could become impossible to eradicate. Once the planting area is completely cleared, however, it is not such a difficult task to remove weed seedlings and keep the bed and the plants clear from then on.

Digging is important, too, as it breaks up the soil, allowing moisture and air to enter, both being vital to the well-being of the plant. The process also allows the gardener to keep an eye out for any soil pests. Dig the soil some time before you intend to plant thebe; digging in autumn and planting in early spring, after checking for any emerging weeds, is ideal.

As you dig the soil, incorporate well-rotted organic material. Not only does it provide food for the plants but it also helps to improve the structure of the soil. The fibrous material helps to breakdown the soil to a crumbly consistency, which allows free drainage of excess water and, at the same time, acts as a reservoir to hold sufficient water for the plants without water-logging them.

The final breaking down of the soil with a rake is more for aesthetic appeal than usefulness; the planting area will look more attractive if it has a smooth finish than if it is left rough.

If possible, prepare an area of at least1-1.2 m/3-4 ft in diameter, so that the roots can spread out into good soil as they grow.

Soil conditioners

Most gardens have patches where, for whatever reason, there is less moisture than elsewhere. If you improve the soil and select plants that are able to thrive in dry conditions, however, this need not be a problem.

Chipped or composted bark has little nutritional value, but makes a good mulch when spread on the surface, by reducing water evaporation and discouraging weeds. It will break down in time. Farmyard manure is rich in nutrients but often contains weed seed; it is a good conditioner. Garden compost (soil mix) is also very good as a conditioner and has good nutrient value. Leaf mould, made from composted leaves, also has good nutritional value and is an excellent conditioner and mulch. Peat is not very suitable as it breaks down too quickly and has little nutritional value.

Tending The Soil

1. Using a chemical spray is the only way to be sure of completely eradicating perennial weeds. Use a non-persistent herbicide, which breaks down when it comes into contact with the soil. It is vital always to follow the instructions on the pack exactly, not only for the obvious safety reasons but also to ensure you use the correct dose to kill all the weeds in the area first time.

2. If the turf to be removed does not include perennial weeds, or the soil is friable enough for the weed’s roots to be removed by hand, it is safer to remove the turf by slicing it off with a spade. Stack the turf in a heap, grass-side down, and use them as compost (soil mix)when they have broken down.

3. Dig over the soil ‘and, as you dig, remove any weed roots and large stones. Double dig, if the subsoil needs to be broken up. Add as much well-rotted organic material as you can to the soil before it is planted, in order to improve its condition.

4. Add the compost (Soil mix) or manure to the soil as you dig, or spread it over the top after all weed roots have been removed, and fork it in.

5. If you dig in the autumn, leave the soil for the winter weather to break down; at any other time, break the soil down by hand into a reasonably fine tilth. Use a rake or hoe to break down the larger lumps of soil, until the bed has an even appearance

Wax and Foreign Objects

The skin lining the outer part of the ear canal contains special glands that normally produce wax. This gradually accumulates on the walls. It’s there to trap foreign bodies from travelling to the drum at the far end and possibly causing damage. It is one of nature’s in-built safety devices.

But in some people, including children, the glands may overproduce and form an excessive amount of wax. This may gradually fill the deeper part of the canal, and finally seal the canal. It usually occurs gradually, often over a period of many weeks, months or even years. But often the last little bit will occur during a shower, when some water or soapsuds causes the final bit to seal. Then there is deafness. All of a sudden the patient notices a lack of hearing in the affected ear.

The doctor will check with the auriscope, and decide if this is the cause of the trouble. The child may have been brought along by an anxious parent fearing permanent deafness. Generally the doctor will remove the wax by syringing the canal with a warm, salty water solution. If it appears to be firmly impacted, this may be preceded by instilling special drops for three to four days beforehand. The parent can usually do this. It breaks up the wax and makes the syringing so much quicker and less uncomfortable for the child. We’ve already talked about the foolishness of children poking foreign objects into their ears. They can readily set up infections that may be serious.

If the parent can obviously see it partly protruding, he or she may be able to retrieve it with the use of a glide-on paperclip, or maybe a pair of blunt forceps from the family first aid kit. Care must be taken not to force it more deeply inside. But anything more than these simple first aid efforts are best left to the doctor, who has a device called an ear curette. This small object is like a long, thin silver probe, with a tiny metal ring at the far end. With this the doctor can often gently ease the foreign object out under direct vision. On some occasions the syringe may also be used. Generally speaking, a good result occurs.

Children who are prone to wax blocking the ear should have the canals checked by the doctor every six to twelve months. Often, especially in dusty sport, sweat, dirt, dust and debris can easily collect in the canals and add to the wax to create a major blockage. After syringing, the canal may be sore for a few days from the efforts of treatment, but this usually settles down.