Many of us see our physician once a year and may find it difficult to open up about very personal and sometimes what some perceive as embarrassing health problems. But, by keeping a tight lip in front of our doctor, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice by not dealing with the issue and, in some instances, possibly harming our health.
It is estimated that 50 percent of Americans will experience symptomatic hemorrhoid disease at some point during their lives. But many suffer in silence. Less than one-third of those with hemorrhoids seek treatment!
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anal canal that result from an increase in pressure. This can result from straining or sitting on the toilet for a long time to make a bowel movement, during pregnancy due to the increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area from the fetus, or from being overweight.
Typically we experience itching, rectal pain, or streaks of bright red blood on toilet paper after straining in order to make a bowel movement. A diagnosis of hemorrhoids can usually be confirmed with a history and physical exam. However, in some cases, rectal bleeding may be a sign of a more serious problem (cancer) and it may be necessary to perform a study known as a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to find the source of the bleeding.
In the majority of cases, hemorrhoids can be successfully treated with dietary changes such as drinking more water and eating more fiber to decrease straining during bowel movement. In some instances, surgery may be needed.
Many of us feel that with age, we start multitasking: laughing, sneezing, coughing and urinating, all at the same time. Unlike wrinkles, an inevitable part of aging, incontinence does not have to be. Because of the anatomic structure of a woman’s urinary tract, combined with our unique experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, it is more common in women. Approximately 10 percent of all women have regular incontinence; 20 percent of women over the age of 75 years experience daily urinary incontinence; and at least 50
percent of women have experienced incontinence at some time in their lives.
The majority of bladder control issues are a tale of “too much or too little” muscle activity. When bladder muscles are too active — known as urge incontinence — there can be a strong urge to go to the bathroom even when you have little urine in the bladder. On a different note, when the muscles are too weak — known as stress incontinence — it can result in loss of urine when sneezing, laughing, or coughing. In some instances, prostate problems or nerve damage can be the culprit.
Treatment options range from simple exercises to medications, special devices, or surgeries.
Despite our ability to put a man on the moon, advances are still slow when it comes to accepting mental illness. Although approximately one in 10 Americans will experience symptoms of depression every year, over 80 percent of them do not receive any specific treatment for it.
Due to the stigma, we are often hesitant to bring it up with our doctors. This precludes treatment and can delay returning joy back to our lives. Another factor that arises in men is that the “typical” signs of depression — sadness, crying — are typically manifest as anger, irritability, physical pain, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and aggression. If you are experiencing any of these, make sure to discuss them with your doctor.
Remember, your doctor is on your team. And rest assured that they are also bound by ethical and legal concerns regarding your privacy.
Creating a supportive, open, honest rapport and relationship with your doctor will guarantee that you receive the best medical care and that your treatment is personally catered to your individual needs.
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Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists where she serves on committees for Young Physicians and Communications. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.