Dear Dr. Gott: I am a 77-year-old female who, from time to time, will suffer from hemorrhoids that swell out. I was wondering if you would write something in the paper about this subject.
Dear Reader: Hemorrhoids are veins around the anus or in the lower rectum that becomes swollen and inflamed. They are the result of straining during bowel movements, or a condition of aging, chronic constipation, diarrhea or pregnancy. Excessive rubbing and cleaning around the anus can also lead to irritation, itching and bleeding.
Treatment is geared toward relieving symptoms, and there are several methods to be considered. The first is a simple sitz bath two or three times a day that involves putting a small amount of very warm water in a bathtub and squatting in the water. Preparation H, other creams and suppositories are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.
Treatment by a physician includes rubber-band ligation, in which the internal hemorrhoid is banded, the blood supply is cut off, and the hemorrhoid dries up after several days. Infrared coagulation requires a device to burn hemorrhoidal tissue. Sclerotherapy consists of a chemical solution injected around blood vessels to shrink the hemorrhoids. When these methods fail to produce good results, hemorrhoidectomy — surgical excision — can be done.
I suggest you make an appointment with your primary-care physician, who can advise you whether to start with an over-the-counter or to undergo a more complex procedure for relief.
Dear Dr. Gott: Lately, my bowel-movement habits have changed. They used to be extremely regular and the correct consistency and shape. A few months ago, I started eating a Fiber One bar for breakfast every day. They are filling and taste good. Most days, they held me through lunch. Then, two things happened. The gas I would have after eating lunch was awful. And I experienced a change in regularity and consistency. I could only attribute it to the Fiber One bar, as that was the only thing I was doing differently.
I stopped eating the bars, hoping things would return to normal. They didn’t. My movements are inconsistent, and I’m having to strain. I tried a laxative. Big, violent mistake. I didn’t like it, nor did it help. A stool softener helped a little, but I’m still not happy. I’m concerned there may be a blockage.
Dear Reader: You don’t indicate your gender or age or a medical conditions that might play a role. Therefore, it is rather difficult for me to provide a meaningful response.
There are several reasons for a change in bowel habits. A change in diet other than the Fiber One bar, medication or an increased stress level in your daily living may be to blame. You could have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or a blockage from yet another undiagnosed condition.
Any change in bowel habits should be followed up on. Begin with your primary-care physician for testing. If any question of diagnosis remains, he or she can recommend you make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, a digestive tract specialist.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.