Hemorrhoids and their treatment
DEAR DRS. DONOHUE AND ROACH: What causes hemorrhoids? I have one that hangs out. I use hemorroidal cream to keep away the burning. I cannot find a doctor in the town where I live who treats hemorrhoids. What can I do to remedy it? -- R.B.
ANSWER: Hemorrhoids are bands of anal tissue containing arteries, veins, muscle fibers and filler material called connective tissue. What causes enlargement of hemorrhoids isn't known with certainty. Many believe that straining to eliminate hard stool promotes their formation.
When a blood clot forms in a hemorrhoid, that's painful. Hemorrhoids often are subject to bleeding. What you have is a prolapsed hemorrhoid, one that has dropped through the anal opening.
Some measures that alleviate the discomfort of hemorrhoids are sitz baths. You sit in a tub with warm water that reaches to the halfway mark on your buttocks, and stay there for 15 minutes. Bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you comfortably can. Do this twice a day.
Keep your stool soft by increasing your intake of fiber. If you can't get enough fiber from your diet, then get a product like Metamucil, which can be found in all drugstores. Continue using your hemorrhoid cream.
There's got to be a doctor who treats hemorrhoids in your town. I looked up the population; it would support more than one doctor. A family doctor treats hemorrhoids. A surgeon is bound to practice in your town. If not, see your family doctor and ask him for the nearest surgeon if the family doctor thinks you need one.
Doctors can get rid of hemorrhoids like yours in many ways. One is to slip a special rubber band around the hemorrhoid with a device that is easily used. The rubber band deprives the hemorrhoid of its blood supply, and in a short time it sloughs off. Many other procedures for dealing with hemorrhoids are available.
DEAR DRS. DONOHUE AND ROACH: I am 80 years old. My doctor tells me I am very healthy for my age. My question is: How much water should I drink each day? My wife thinks I drink too much water. -- K.W.
ANSWER: You can count all fluids you drink as part of your fluid balance, not just water. Coffee and tea count. Solid foods contain liquids, and they figure into your daily intake. Fruits and vegetables are 90 percent water. Watermelon, berries, grapes, tomatoes and lettuce are close to 100 percent water. Even very dry-looking food, like bread has water in it. You don't have to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That's old information.
Drink when you're thirsty. It's true that the sensation of thirst is blunted at older ages, but it's still a reliable guide for liquid need. You have to make up the water deficit that comes with urine formation, sweating and from the lungs when they exhale. If your urine is pale yellow, you are getting more than enough water -- fluid.
TO READERS: The booklet on heart attacks explains all about America's No. 1 killer. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue -- No. 102, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DRS. DONOHUE AND ROACH: My potassium is high, at 5.9. My doctor gave me Kayexalate. My blood pressure has gone up to 140/60. Is that OK? -- E.E.
ANSWER: Normal blood potassium level is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/L. Sometimes a single reading of potassium is falsely high. If you clench your fist too hard and too often to make a vein stand out, potassium can leak into the blood sample. If the blood is put in a too-warm environment, potassium rises. Before making any moves, a second test ought to be done to confirm the true potassium level.
Kidney malfunction is the most common illness cause of potassium rise. Other blood tests didn't show that and you have no signs or symptoms of kidney trouble. Do you take an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker for high blood pressure? They elevate the potassium blood level. Kayexalate trades sodium for potassium in the blood. The sodium might have raised your pressure. Your pressure is OK for the present time, while you're getting the potassium problem solved.
Wait for the second test. If it's high, write back.
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Drs. Donohue and Roach regret that they are unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may write the doctors or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers also may order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.
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