Your Embarrassing Health Questions: Answered

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We asked our viewers to send their medical questions so that they could get advice and answers by Dr. Melissa Lem. Here are a few of your questions answered below!

Ask a Doctor

I've heard that taking medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen during your period will cause damage to your body and menstrual cycles. Is that true?

Regular, long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can lead to issues like stomach ulcers or high blood pressure. However, using it for one week once a month to manage menstrual cramping and flow is unlikely to cause problems, especially if you’re a young woman and otherwise healthy. Acetaminophen may have fewer side effects, but isn’t as effective at managing period pain.

I developed a toenail fungus after a pedicure and was prescribed drugs to cure it, but it's been months...Is there really a cure? And a natural one? Also, how contagious is it?

Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, can be cured — but because toenails grow so slowly it can take 3-12 months for the affected part to disappear. Prescription medications cure up to 70 per cent of cases, but the problem recurs about half the time. In terms of natural cures, tea tree oil and mentholated rub products have been studied, but cure rates are much lower. The infection can spread to your feet and hands, lead to jock itch and affect other people, so keep your feet to yourself and wear protective footwear in public areas.

I'm not religious, and am only asking for hygiene reasons: Would my baby boy be healthier throughout life if he was circumcised?

The benefits of circumcision include slightly lower risks of local cancer, bladder infections and certain sexually transmitted infections. Disadvantages include the risk of pain, bleeding, injury and infection from the procedure. Given these considerations, the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 conclude that the benefits outweigh the risks, but are not great enough to recommend universal circumcision. Ultimately, parents are the ones who should decide, with input from their baby’s health-care provider.

I have recurring yeast infections. I think it might be because I sweat a lot during exercise. I don't like to use antibiotics. Do I need to or is there a natural remedy?

Increased heat and moisture, like what happens during exercise, can definitely set off a yeast infection. You can try preventing these conditions by wearing loose exercise clothing and breathable fibres. Although yeast infections are typically treated with oral or topical antifungal medication, other remedies include eating or applying probiotic bacteria and garlic, or tea tree oil.  However, the only natural remedy that’s been well studied is boric acid tablets, which cure about two-thirds of cases.

I don't like that my boyfriend uses a cell phone in bed and then keeps it charging on his bedside table. Isn't that unhealthy?

Many people worry that exposure to cell phones could cause cancer, but there is no evidence that this is true.  That said, research shows that using a cell phone in bed is indeed bad for his health because it’s been linked to sleep issues. A 2012 study showed that using a backlit device for 2 hours before bed can suppress melatonin — or sleep hormone — release by 22 per cent.  Not only that, but people subconsciously expecting a call or text in the middle of the night tend to have lighter, more disturbed sleep.

I overhauled my diet and started eating a lot more vegetables. I feel great, but now my pee smells really bad! Is this normal?

First, be sure that you don’t have a medical condition like a bladder infection. If you rule that out, rest assured that it’s completely normal for certain vegetables to cause smelly pee. The most well-known culprit is asparagus, which contains sulphur-containing compounds that get broken down and released in your urine. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, as well as garlic and onions, are also frequent offenders. Try reducing the odour by drinking cranberry juice and upping your intake of water and non-caffeinated drinks.

I find myself constantly farting. I've tried changing my diet and eliminating foods that apparently cause gas. But it's not working! What gives?

A normal person produces up to 1½ litres of gas per day and passes it up to 25 times per day!  In fact, overproduction of gas is rare, so you might just be more aware of your bodily functions than others. However, three of the most common treatable causes of excessive flatulence include irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and intestinal infections — so if you have other concerning symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or gas that smells particularly bad, talk to your doctor.

 

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