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Embarrassing Illnesses

Monday, 20 April 2009

Today Dr. Philip is going to be telling us about some illnesses that people may be too embarrassed to go to their doctors with.

These illnesses are very common and we want to put viewer's minds at ease.

Doctor Philip will be running through six illnesses which some people may see as embarrassing but are very common in his surgery.

Excessive wind
What causes wind?
Wind is produced by the digestive system as enzymes and bacteria break down carbohydrates and proteins in your food. After food has been broken down and mixed up in the stomach, it is digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Anything that is left over, such as dietary fibre and some carbohydrates, pass into the large bowel.

Any change in your usual diet can cause your body to produce more wind than usual. This is because the bacteria that live in our bowels get used to coping with whatever we eat on a regular basis, and have a bit more difficulty handling anything we're not used to.
If you regularly overeat then your stomach will have to work faster than normal, breaking down all the extra food, which can lead to more wind.

The key issue with regards to excessive wind is diet. There are many different foods which may cause excessive wind.

Insoluble Fibre
Foods such as beans, cauliflower and cabbage contain insoluble fibre and take a long time to break down in the bowel, which can also trigger excess wind. Food containing a lot of fibre such as baked beans and brown rice, and drinks such as beer and coffee can also contribute to flatulence.

Overproduction of bacteria

Certain foods, such as kidney beans and artichokes cause an overproduction of bacteria in the stomach, which can in turn lead to excessive flatulence.

Other foods
Other foods that can cause flatulence in some people are lettuce, apples, turnip, lentils, parsnip, swede, onions, brussels sprouts, beans, garlic, leeks and products made with malt extracts.

What can one do about smell?
This again may be a dietary issue so it's a case of keeping a food diary and seeing what foods may have made the smell worse. Some foods which may cause smell are usually rich in sulphur such as cauliflower, eggs and meat are more likely to make the gas smelly.

Doctor Philip recommends for people to keep a food diary if they suffer from wind. If they have a day where it is particularly bad then they can look at their food diary and try to cut out the food that may be causing it.

Medical conditions that can cause flatulence are:

. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
. Gastroenteritis.
. Diverticulosis or diverticulitis.
. Coeliac disease.
. If your thyroid is not working properly.
. If your body is not absorbing food properly.
. If part of your intestine is blocked.

What about burping?
Above all, the most common cause for flatulence is swallowing air. This is because each time we swallow we take air into the stomach. Eating too fast, gulping food and drink, drinking with meals, chewing gum, smoking, or wearing loose dentures can all contribute to swallowing excess air. The air normally leaves the body as a belch (burp) but sometimes it can travel further into the intestines and can only be released through your anus.


Intestinal worms
Parasites are organisms larger than yeast or bacteria that can cause infection, usually in the intestines. Some of these may be in the form of worms such as roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. This is a very important ailment to catch in its infancy as there is a chance that the worms may reach a stage where they can reproduce and lay eggs in your intestine.

. Abdominal pain
. Diarrhea
. Nausea or vomiting
. Gas or bloating
. Dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus)
. Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
. Stomach pain or tenderness
. Feeling tired
. Weight loss
. Passing a worm in your stool

There are many different treatment options. Your doctor will more than likely recommend either medicinal or herbal medication which will flush the worm out.

Stretch marks
Stretch marks are narrow, streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. They're also sometimes known as stria or striae. Stretch marks are often red or purple at first, before gradually fading to a silvery-white colour.

The skin is made up of three main layers, which are described below.

. The epidermis: the outer layer of skin that forms a protective barrier for the inside of your body.
. The dermis: the strong, supportive middle layer of skin that gives the skin its firmness and flexibility.
. The subcutis: also sometimes known as the hypodermis. It is the inner layer of skin, consisting of fat and connective tissue.

Stretch marks occur in the dermis, when the skin is stretched considerably over a short period of time. This rapid stretching causes the dermis to break in places and allow the deeper layers of the skin to show through, forming stretch marks.

Who gets stretch marks?
Anyone can get stretch marks and they are very common, although they tend to occur more often in women than in men. The areas of the body most commonly affected by stretch marks are the abdomen (stomach), the buttocks and the thighs.

Stretch marks can appear on the skin wherever it is stretched as a result of sudden growth, such as during pregnancy, weight gain or growth spurts during puberty.

There is no specific medical treatment for stretch marks and in most cases there is no need to see your GP about them. Most stretch marks fade over time and are not that noticeable.
If you have a lot of stretch marks, if they affect a large part of your body or if you are worried that they look unsightly there may be treatments available that can help.

However, there is little or no medical evidence to show that treatments such as gels and lotions will work, so it is important that you are realistic about what they can achieve.


Body Lice
This is a common ailment seen in doctor surgeries nationwide. Lice are highly infectious as they jump from one body to the next. They live by sucking blood which will cause an irritation that feel like itching. There may also be red spots noticeable on the body. There are many possible causes for this including,

. Dirty accommodation (i.e. unhygienic hotel / b & b)
. If you have been in contact with people who have had lice

Doctors will recommend a lotion which will get rid of the lice. This, placed on over three days will get rid of the lice. This is a very uncomfortable condition which can be very easily treated. It's very important that this condition is treated in its infancy as if left untreated the lice multiply quickly and not only will they affect you but also all those around you.

Bladder Problems

Incontinence can be common for women after child birth as the pelvic floor may not be as strong as it once was. There are many pelvic floor exercises which one can do in order to combat this and it's recommended that you see a physio for advice.

Many have an overactive bladder and this can cause daytime problems as well, such as passing urine very often (frequency), having to rush to the toilet (urgency) and accidentally leaking urine on the way (urge incontinence). The cause of this unstable bladder is usually unknown.

Bed Wetting
The first thing your doctor will check for if you present to him with the problem of bed wetting is to check your bladder. This is done to ensure that there is no infection of the bladder or that the bladder hasn't lost any elasticity which may allow urine to drain out.

Additionally it's also important to point out that over indulgence of alcohol can also result in bed wetting.

Excessive Facial Hair
This is a problem which can have very real psychological affects for some women due to the fact that it affects their appearance.

Women have both female and male hormones. In some cases the male hormone can be more dominant which may result in facial hair. This dominant hormone may be also be seen in the form of a deeper voice or smaller breasts. The excessive facial hair may also be a sign that one has polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can also cause obesity and very irregular menstrual cycles

The problem of excessive facial hair can be treated. It's treated either through medication, creams and or electrical therapy.