Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2014 Contents B28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, August 1, 2014
There are the diseases you don t want to get
because they ll kill you. Then there are the diseases
you don t want to get because you are too embar-
rassed to discuss them out loud, even with your
Hemorrhoids often fall into the latter category.
By age 30, more than half the population has one
or more hemorrhoids symptoms. It s one of the most
common ailments, and yet talking about the extreme
pain, bleeding, and itching in your anal or rectal area
is another story. Heck, even typing that sentence
made me blush.
Studies show only a third of patients with symp-
tomatic hemorrhoids actually seek medical help.
Most would rather suffer in silence.
In fact, Google stats show a disproportionate num-
ber of you type the word "hemorrhoid" into that
search box, and come to CNN looking for help.
But sometimes you really should talk to a doctor,
even if it s hard to choke out words for problems like
"hemorrhoids," "herpes," "toenail fungus" or anything
else "down there," as one patient called their pelvic
"It is so important for you to be able to talk to
your doctor, because your health is at stake," said
Carrie Bernat. Bernat works at the University of
Michigan Medical School training medical students
to offer better patient-centred care. Your relationship
with your doctor "needs to be based on trust and
respect, otherwise information will be missed on
either side and it will have a negative impact."
In other words, a failure to communicate with your
doctor can hurt your health.
Thankfully, hemorrhoids are not all that dangerous.
The veins near your anus or rectum have gotten swollen.
There are topical creams you can buy at the drugstore
to treat them. You can make dietary changes like adding
more fiber and drinking more water to reduce your
chances of having them. You could even try something
called a sitz bath to make them feel better.
But sometimes hemorrhoids are beyond the help
of home remedies. They can become so painful you
need surgery. Hemorrhoids can come back even after
you treat the symptoms and stay a real pain in the---
well you know. A doctor can help.
It s also good to talk to a doctor for peace of mind.
What if it s not really hemorrhoids? What if it s
"Good communication is essential to help me find
the sweet spot as far as treatment," said Dr Greg
Diette who was a co-author on the study and works
at Johns Hopkins.
Diette tries to work around a patient s reticence.
He starts each appointment with open-ended ques-
tions. He s mindful not to interrupt. He builds rapport.
"Then when there are things I need to know, only
then do I ask specifics," he said. And he s always sure
to ask a final question.
"At the end, I always ask Is there anything so far
that we have not talked about? and that s often when
I get the great questions," Diette said.
Some doctors call these the "hand-on-the-door
He says some doctors also try to work around this
discomfort by having you fill out a survey before you
go in to see them. The thinking is that you will feel
more comfortable filling that out, rather than talking
about a problem. Then it will be the doctor prompting
you with questions.
So be sure to be an empowered patient and take
your time and advocate for yourself when you go in
to get things checked out. Doctors are used to talking
about all sorts of medical issues, even if you are not.
Write down what you want to say ahead of time
or put together a checklist so you can be sure to
cover all your questions. Be honest on those surveys
you get before you go into the office. And Diette
suggests you ask if your doctor will give you their
a real pain in the...
e-mail address. Sometimes he thinks it s easier for
some of his patients to put things in writing.
If all that doesn t work and you still don t feel
comfortable communicating with your doctor, Bernat
has a simple suggestion: Find one you can talk to.
for you to
be able to
talk to your
is at stake.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
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