Archive for November, 2015

I’m 80 and I eat a lot less now, am I getting enough nutrients?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm in my 80s. These days, I'm not very hungry and I eat a lot less than I used to. My daughter is worried I'm not getting enough nutrients. Is she right?

DEAR READER: Of course, I don't know if you are getting enough nutrients, but your daughter is right to be worried about it. For one thing, you say you're not eating much. People normally start to have a reduced appetite as they get into their 70s and 80s, but it's not a dramatic change.

Non-surgical treatments for fecal incontinence

DEAR READER: In yesterday's column I discussed non-surgical treatments for fecal incontinence. Today, I'll discuss surgical treatment options. When everything works properly, feces move from the colon into the rectum, which sits at the end of the digestive tract. The rectum has walls that stretch to hold the stool. Two circular muscles are present in the last inch of the rectum, or anal canal.

What are effective treatments for fecal incontinence?

DEAR DOCTOR K: In an earlier column, you wrote about causes of fecal incontinence. You mentioned that there are effective treatments. Can you tell us about them?

DEAR READER: Although there are surgical treatments for fecal incontinence, simpler treatments usually do the trick. They range from dietary changes to bowel training. Today I'll discuss non-surgical treatments. In tomorrow's column I'll discuss surgical treatments. One of the most effective ways to reduce fecal leakage is to increase your fiber intake.

How do you treat tinnitus?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a constant ringing or buzzing sound in my ears. It's been going on for months. What can I do? It's driving me crazy.

DEAR READER: You probably have a condition called tinnitus. It's pretty common. Many of my patients have it. Occasionally, I have it. It doesn't usually affect your hearing. But it can be really annoying and distracting, enough so that it affects people's level of function.

Is a vegetarian diet really better for your health?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm thinking of becoming a vegetarian. But I need to be certain -- is a vegetarian diet really better for your health?

DEAR READER: The answer is: it depends. Just avoiding meats and eating only vegetables can be accomplished in both healthy and unhealthy ways. After all, a vegetarian who subsists on meat-free pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches isn't doing himself any favors. And, believe it or not, I've had more than one "vegetarian" patient whose diet was like that. However, for a while now, it's been clear that healthy, plant-based diets may improve long-term health. Such healthy vegetarian diets include proteins from vegetables (peas, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and many others) and carbs from whole grains.