Digestive health problems are found in people of all ages and in some circumstances are hard to treat. Accurate advice from experts can help you deal with the problems properly while also reducing anxiety.
Q: My daughter has diarrhea. Is it true that I should feed her yogurt instead of medications?
A: Normally, doctors recommend that you avoid dairy products when having diarrhea. But fermented milk or yogurt is the exception, despite that it comes from milk. This is because yogurt has live or active cultures called Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. When eaten in adequate amounts these organisms appear to help establish a healthier balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. These live cultures help restore the good bacteria in your intestine and reduce stomachache or diarrhea caused by bad bacteria.
However, only eating yogurt is not enough. First and foremost you should prevent dehydration and a keep a good balance of liquids and minerals in the body by drinking
water or sport drinks. It is not always necessary to take medication. Excretion is the body’s natural way to expel germs and waste. Certain drugs that stop excretion may result in the body storing germs and cause harmful effects including slowing down the recovery process.
Q: I tend to get traveler’s diarrhea and am quite worried about it. Should I preventatively take medicines before traveling?
A: Anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of international travelers may suffer from the nightmare of traveler’s diarrhea at some stage during their travels. The onset of and recovery from traveler’s diarrhea usually occurs within a week of travel. Therefore, doctors generally do not recommend taking anti-diarrhea medicine because it may cause side effects such as flatulence. Normally, the primary source of infection is ingestion of fecal-contaminated food or water. Thus, travelers should pay careful attention to the food and water that they ingest, avoiding half-cooked, unusual and unclean food items.
Q: I just turned 50 and my doctor has recommended a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. Will it hurt? Are there alternatives to colonoscopy that are equally effective?
A: The latest incidence statistics from the National Cancer Institute claim that among new cancer patients, colon and rectal cancer is second only to breast cancer. The incidence rates increase in people aged 50 and over and is more common among males than females. If you are at risk, you should consult a doctor or genetic counselor to get screened and analyze your risk of developing cancer.
Nowadays, there are several methods to screen for colorectal cancer. Apart from a colonoscopy, the cancer can also be detected with a fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy and computerized x-ray. Each method has pros and cons. Specialists choose the most suitable method for each patient. But generally, colonoscopy is a safe and highly precise way to detect colon and rectal cancer. Besides, before starting the test, patients are given a sedative so that they avoid the test’s discomfort.
Have a question? You can submit your question for possible inclusion in future issues of Better Health, by e-mail
[email protected] or by mail to Editor, Better Health Magazine, Bumrungrad International Hospital,
33 Sukhumvit 3, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.