Allergy talk: Dr Christian Jessen offers tips for coping with dust mites and sleeping better at night
It’s not an especially embarrassing illness, but for TV’s Dr Christian Jessen, having hay fever in high summer is an inconvenient one, because it rather gets in the way of filming.
“I developed hay fever really badly in my early 30s and it’s a real problem when filming because I can have red itchy eyes, a blocked nose, and feel very wheezy,” says the 37-year-old.
Although he’s administered to hundreds of poorly people throughout his career, the dashing doctor, who fronts Embarrassing Bodies, rather sheepishly admits he’s not his own best patient.
“We doctors are generally useless at treating ourselves and don’t give ourselves the same care we would give to patients.”
In fact, he reveals, he once almost died because he ignored appendicitis.
“There have been a number of occasions when I’ve neglected myself and I once got appendicitis. I got peritonitis (inflammation of the abdomen wall) through doing that, nearly died, and was in hospital for a week afterwards. I don’t even remember the first two days after the anaesthetic...
“But it wasn’t that I missed the appendicitis,” he adds, quickly. “I diagnosed it, and knew exactly what it was, but, as a control freak, I’m terrified of the idea of an anaesthetic, and leaving other people completely in charge of you is my worst nightmare. So I simply hoped it would go away. I would never do this to a patient. If a patient had come to me in the state I was, I would have got them by the scruff of the neck, and marched them into hospital!”
The real reason Dr Jessen is laying his own history of illness bare is because he’s campaigning to help other allergy sufferers get a better night’s sleep by switching to woollen bedding. Apparently, according to The Wool Room and Allergy UK, whose Indoor Allergy Week runs from October 20, the natural fibre has a moisture management system which reduces the amount of house dust mites and other allergens.
“Allergies can develop at any time, and any age and, as a doctor, I realise they’re an ever-increasing problem,” says Dr Jessen. “They can make patients miserable, take up a lot of GP time, and can be frustrating as often they’re difficult to sort out.
“Symptoms from dust mite allergies include catarrh, runny nose and eyes, and they are difficult to avoid. But mites are unable to live in wool, so changing bedding and other things in the home to substitute for wool can be a real help.
Known for his taste in colourful shirts - he reckons there are around 800 in his wardrobe, and admits he’s “never worn the same shirt twice in eight years” - he treated his own moderately embarrassing condition, hair loss, last year with implants a la Wayne Rooney. A bout of pneumonia in 2012 had left him thinning and he found himself the butt of some nasty jibes on Twitter, so he forked out £5,500 for a transplant of 3,000 hairs at a Manchester clinic.
Dr Christian’s Top Tips To Better Sleep: 1. Drink water before bed, turn off your ipad, read a book and turn down the central heating.
For more information: www.thewoolroom.com