HEALTH MATTERS: Best hemorrhoid treatment is preventionI noticed some bleeding when I went to the bathroom, and my doctor diagnosed hemorrhoids. Should I be worried? What is the treatment?
By: Dr. Joshua Wynne, Grand Forks Herald
Q. I noticed some bleeding when I went to the bathroom, and my doctor diagnosed hemorrhoids. Should I be worried? What is the treatment?
A. It is good that you checked with your doctor to make sure nothing more serious was the cause of your bleeding. Hemorrhoids are a common condition, consisting of swollen veins in the anal region. It has been estimated that about half of us will experience a problem with hemorrhoids at some point in our lives. They may cause bleeding when going to the bathroom, as you noticed, which usually consists of some streaks of blood on the toilet paper. Hemorrhoids may also cause itching and pain in the region. They seem to be associated with straining when using the toilet, so people with diarrhea or constipation are at risk. They are also common during pregnancy, and many women with hemorrhoids get relief from hemorrhoidal pain following the delivery of their child. Obese individuals also are at increased risk of developing them. The best treatment is prevention, which includes eating foods that have lots of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and drinking plenty of water. When treatment is needed, a variety of over-the-counter ointments and cleansers are available in drug stores, and do the trick for most patients. In some cases, more needs to be done, and this can include injection of the hemorrhoid to transform it into scar tissue. In the most problematic cases, surgery may be performed. But for most people, the over-the-counter remedies work just fine.
Q. I just developed a painful crack in the corner of my mouth where my upper and lower lips meet. What is it, and what should I do about it?
A. You have a condition called cheilosis (or cheilitis). It often affects both corners of the mouth, but may be seen on just one side as in your case. Although it may be associated with serious conditions such as anemia, vitamin deficiency and serious infections, it usually is benign and goes away by itself. It can be associated with ill-fitting dentures, exposure to extreme heat or cold, and other environmental factors. Treatment may include lip balms, or medications like antibiotic or antifungal cream. There are surprisingly few good articles in the medical literature that assess the best treatments for this condition, so to some degree it is trial and error. Repeated or severe episodes would merit a visit to your primary care provider.
Wynne is vice president for health affairs at UND, dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and a professor of medicine. He is a cardiologist by training.
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