Chances are those symptoms and questions you're too embarrassed to bring up with your doctor are questions they hear on a regular basis. Still, if you just can't bring yourself to talk about bowel movements or body hair, here are a few of the most frequently asked embarrassing questions you may be wondering about, and which ones you really should approach with our specialists.
Q: Why do I have strong urges to go to the bathroom, but then it just comes out in small, hard pellets?
A: This is more common than you think and is often attributed to having to hold it in (while in a meeting, driving, etc.). When the urge hits, your body sends the bile through the colon to the rectum. However, if you can't go immediately, your brain sends a signal to stop it at the rectum. If held in there long enough, the colon absorbs the water out of the bile and it becomes dry and hard. The solution? If possible, go as soon as the urge hits.
Q: Why am I wetting the bed? I'm way too old for this!
A: An overactive bladder, also known as incontinence, is common, especially in older adults and females. There can be several causes, including urinary tract infection, type 1 and 2 diabetes, diuretic drugs, caffeine, alcohol and nerve damage from diseases such as MS or Parkinson's. But there is hope. Treatments may include behavioral therapy, losing weight, medication, surgery or devices.
Q: Why am I so itchy "back there?"
A: Long story short, your rear end itches and you don't know why. Rest easy knowing that almost everyone experiences itching around their backside, and 95% of the time it's nothing serious. While there's rarely a specific reason for the itching, studies have shown that overconsumption of certain foods or liquids can contribute to it, such as beer, coffee or tomato sauce. Relief usually comes with topical creams or changing the way you clean. But don't over cleanse! It can injure your skin and cause further irritation.
Q: Why do my feet smell SO BAD??
A. Smelly feet are most often caused by sweating. Even when your feet aren't sweating, there's a bacteria on your body called normal skin flora. Sweat triggers the bacteria, which then gives off odors. To get rid of odor, the most effective solution can be the use of an antiperspirant on your feet. (Whatever you use under your arms.) Or try soaking your feet in black tea for 30 minutes every day for a week.
Q: How can one person pass so much gas?!
A: When we talk about passing gas, remember that it includes burping. The average person, both male and female, will pass gas 14 times a day - which is a good thing since it helps release the waste products of food from your body, preventing stomach pain and bloating. Twenty percent of gas comes from the air you take in through your mouth by chewing gum, eating too quickly, drinking carbonation or smoking cigarettes. Limiting sulfur-rich foods like eggs, meat, beer, beans and cauliflower can help, but the best solutions are leafy green vegetable and probiotics.
Q: Should I really have hair there?
A: A few sparse hairs are perfectly normal and certainly no cause for alarm. However, if you're a woman and have abnormal amounts on your upper lip or chin, between your breasts, or on your abdomen or inner thighs, it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is characterized by high blood levels of androgens (male hormones), and it's the most common hormonal disorder in women during their reproductive years. It can lead to infertility and eventually to serious complications such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke, so although it may be embarrassing, it's important to talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms.
While most of us simply rely on Google to answer our most embarrassing health questions, it's a good idea to address your questions with your doctor we guarantee they've heard it before. You can call our free physician referral line at 227-2777 if you need to make an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.