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Daily Archives: May 26, 2016

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What to Do If You Spot Blood in Your Poop

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Q: I've been noticing blood in my poop. Should I be concerned?

I don't want to alarm you, but you should have this checked out ASAP. How much blood have you been noticing, and what color? And is it mixed in with the stool or on top? These are details that will help your doctor pinpoint where the bleeding is coming from. If you spot bright red or maroon blood on the surface, you may have an anal fissure (a tiny tear), which can happen from passing large or hard stools. While they can be painful, the cuts are typically nothing to worry about and heal on their own within a few weeks. Anal fissures that don't get better within six weeks may require medicine or surgery—but that's pretty rare.

RELATED: Can't Poop? Here's Everything You Should Know About Constipation

Blood on your poop, or bleeding during or between bathroom runs, could also be a sign of hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus or rectum. You can develop them from a variety of causes, including straining when you go, constipation, or pregnancy, when there's extra pressure on the veins. Often hemorrhoids can be made less troublesome with dietary tweaks, like drinking plenty of water and adding fiber to help soften stools. In the meantime, your doc may suggest using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help with the swelling and itchiness.

However, red or darker blood in the toilet or mixed in with the poop might indicate something more serious, such as colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The most common types of IBD are Crohn's disease, which involves inflammation anywhere in your digestive tract, and ulcerative colitis (UC), in which the inflammation specifically affects the lining of the colon and rectum. IBD can also cause abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss when it flares up. Mild IBD symptoms can often be controlled by medication, combined with avoiding certain foods (including fatty and high-fiber kinds, as well as dairy), eating smaller and more frequent meals, drinking plenty of water, and exercising. In extreme cases, surgery or additional medications may be required.

RELATED: 15 Healthy-Eating Tips for Crohn's Disease

Those with Crohn's disease and UC are also at higher risk of developing colon cancer, which is why it's important to bring up any blood in your number two with your doctor to figure out the reason behind it and start treating it as quickly as possible.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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Italian Vegetable Hoagies

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Italian Vegetable Hoagies Recipe
Italian Vegetable Hoagies
This delightfully easy, and somewhat messy, sandwich packs a punch with sweet balsamic vinegar, artichoke hearts, red onion, provolone cheese and zesty pepperoncini. We love it for dinner as well as lunch. If you're packing the hoagies to take along, keep the ingredients separate and assemble right before eating to avoid soggy bread. Serve with tomato and cucumber salad.

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Zesty Shrimp & Black Bean Salad

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Zesty Shrimp & Black Bean Salad Recipe
Zesty Shrimp & Black Bean Salad
Loaded with fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro and seasoned with cumin and chile, this shrimp and black bean salad recipe has all the flavors of a great fresh salsa and is a quick and easy no-cook recipe. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh corn tortillas.

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Tackling anxiety

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Learn more about recognising anxiety symptoms and how to treat it. 

 

The Problem: You often feel anxious, with negative thoughts and a racing heart. Frequently, your stomach feels queasy and occasionally you stop in the middle of the room and can’t remember what you’re doing. More and more, you find yourself in tears over the smallest things.

Mental Diagnosis: Anxiety. If the problem is ongoing, you could be diagnosed with GAD – generalised anxiety disorder. Your doctor will probably be keen to establish whether or not there has been any event in your life that may have triggered the psychological change, a death, break-up or another tragic event. If so, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder may be made.

Treatment for anxiety is wide ranging, from relaxation techniques and counselling to cognitive therapy and learning about what you are dealing with so you can problem-solve when anxiety arises. With anxiety, knowledge is definitely power.

Tranquilisers or antidepressants may be recommended by your GP, but usually only as a temporary measure while you’re getting your life back on track with other therapies.

Physical Diagnosis: Anxiety can have a dietary cause. Inadequate intake of B vitamins and calcium can promote anxiety and magnesium deficiency can certainly contribute towards anxiety, particularly noticeable when added to PMS. 

Anxiety can also potentially contribute towards bladder infections and, interestingly, a bladder infection can, in turn, trigger anxiety. The biochemical reaction can also work on the gut and bowel, leading to symptoms of IBS, bloating and diarrhoea.

Discover four breathing techniques that help reduce stress.

 

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