DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome by his physician. He's extremely uncomfortable and isn't getting a lot of relief. What are his options?
DEAR READER: IBS is a common disorder of the large and small intestines. It affects up to 15 percent of North Americans, mostly women. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or a combination thereof. It can appear at any age, but it is often found in younger people. Previous studies indicated IBS was caused by stress, but the condition is now thought to be a malfunction of the movement of the colon. Whatever the cause, it is uncomfortable for those who suffer from the condition.
For starters, your husband might modify his diet. It should include high-fiber foods such as bran, whole-grain bread, beans, fruits and vegetables. Remember to add the fiber gradually, since a major change to the dietary intake can cause gas that, in turn, will trigger symptoms — the very thing he wants to avoid.
Perhaps he already knows what brings on an attack, but, generally speaking, he should avoid fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and some dairy products. If he doesn't know what initiates symptoms, he might keep a diary of what he eats (and when) so, when symptoms occur, he can narrow down the list to foods that trigger an attack. If he takes the list of trigger foods to his physician, they can work out a diet together. In any event, his meals should not be large. He might consider four or five smaller meals throughout the day.
While I said that stress was previously thought to be the cause of IBS but later found not to be, it can trigger an attack. He should find ways to reduce his stress level as an additional means of control.
Between diet modification, a reduction in stress levels and medication (such as over-the-counter Digestive Advantage IBS or prescription, if appropriate), he should be on the road to recovery.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report, "Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
DEAR DR. GOTT: My 30-year-old daughter has had eczema since birth. She has tried just about everything possible. Do you have a simple remedy like your banana skin for psoriasis?
DEAR READER: Eczema is often extremely difficult to control. It stems from a malfunction of the body's immune system. The condition is known as an itch that rashes. When the uncontrolled urge to scratch occurs, further skin irritation results, often causing rash, scaling and crusting lesions.
There are many triggers causing eczema. They include animal dander, dry skin, harsh soaps, showering too frequently, using hot water and more. The most effective control is to keep the skin moisturized. A good moisturizing lotion with vitamin E is recommended. While it's easier said than done, I suggest your daughter not scratch any lesions. If this is a habit she might do in her sleep, she can wear cotton gloves to bed. She should bathe in warm, not hot, water. If her home is dry, she might use a humidifier. If these suggestions don't work, she might ask her physician for a prescription medication.