From diarrhea, to diabetes to dizziness, The Doctors dish on the most dreaded “D” words.
Rebecca, 20, has suffered from recurring bouts of diarrhea for the last four years. She says it usually occurs about once a month, and is often accompanied by severe stomach cramps and, at times, blood.
"There's acute diarrhea and there's chronic diarrhea," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "Without question, Rebecca, you have chronic diarrhea."
Chronic diarrhea lasts longer than four weeks, while acute diarrhea lasts several days. The most common causes include viruses, medication and bacteria and parasites, but it can also be caused by certain substances found in food and beverages, including fructose, lactose and digestive disorders. Rebecca says that she consumes a lot of diet soda, which contains artificial sweeteners, and dairy.
"In your case, Rebecca, this has been going on long enough that you need to try to eliminate what I suspect are causes," Dr. Travis says. "You may be lactose intolerant. Believe it or not, the artificial sweeteners in those sodas that you're drinking can cause diarrhea in some people. The fact that you don't have these other symptoms — no fever, no weight loss, [and the bouts of diarrhea] come on for a few hours here and there — makes me less concerned that this is a severe illness as much as a severe symptom.
"I want you to try to eliminate those products from your life," Dr. Travis adds. "I promise you that it'll help some, but if your symptoms do continue, you do need to get evaluated. There are chronic diarrhea cases caused by things like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome."
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears adds that Rebecca should eliminate the products from her diet for a few weeks. "Don't just try it for a few days and say, 'Oh, it didn't work,'" he says. "It's going to have to be a while."
Dr. Travis demonstrates what happens inside your body when you suffer from diarrhea.
Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that affects people of all ages. The disease occurs when the body does not correctly use or produce enough insulin, causing uncontrolled blood-sugar levels. High glucose levels can damage the kidneys, eyes and heart as well as increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and dehydration. If left unchecked, high blood sugar degrades blood vessels, nerves and organs. According to a new study, the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to double within the next 25 years, and 44 million Americans will have the disease by 2034.
"The staggering thing is that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] tells us 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "That means the type of diabetes you can take control of."
"More and more kids are getting type 2 diabetes," Dr. Jim says. "A lot of the experts say that unless people make changes, one in three kids are going to eventually get diabetes when they grow up."
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
• Exercise — make sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity per day
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Maintain a healthy cholesterol level
• Take a yearly glucose tolerance test
• Take a yearly fasting glucose test
• Eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet
• Get involved with research! If you're overweight or pre-diabetic, science needs you. Participants are often financially compensated, and are treated with the most medically advanced programs available to date.
Dr. Travis says that his father was put on diabetes medicine nearly a decade ago but has taken control of the disease. "As he increased his activity — and he looks fantastic. He just turned 67 and looks wonderful — I'm going to tell you, he doesn't take diabetes medicine anymore because he changed his lifestyle," Dr. Travis says.
Learn more about diabetes.
The nasal septum, a thin wall of cartilage that separates the left and right nasal cavity, should run evenly up the center of the nose. However, if the septum is displaced or deviated — be it congenital or the result of an injury — the nasal cavity is compromised and airflow is restricted. Signs of a deviated septum include obstruction in the nostrils, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, recurring sinus infections and loud breathing. It can also worsen allergies and make the nose appear crooked.
Symptoms can be managed by using decongestants or medications. "But you're only going to get so much improvement with that," Dr. Ordon says.
"To correct it, you do need to have surgery to straighten the septum," Dr. Ordon continues. "In most cases I also do a little change on the outside of the nose, because a lot of times, a deviated septum is going to give you a crooked nose on the outside."
Surgery can improve the ability to sleep, breathe and smell. Watch Dr. Ordon correct one woman's deviated septum.
Between 30 and 40 million people in the United States avoid a trip to the dentist due to sheer anxiety. Mel, 31, is terrified of the dentist and avoids going at all costs. "It's hard for me to even pick up the phone and make an appointment," she says.
Fear of dentists is known as dentophobia. Avoiding the dentist and having poor oral hygiene can put a person at risk for gum disease, early tooth loss, heart disease and lower life expectancy.
"Most of these people fall into this fear of pain, the fear of loss of control or embarrassment, or maybe they've had a bad experience," Dr. Travis says. "The good news is this; you can get over these fears!"
To help Mel overcome her phobia, The Doctors sends her to cosmetic dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman for a cleaning.
Diaper rash is one of the most common skin problems babies and toddlers suffer. Cindi's 10-month-old daughter, Morgan, has suffered recurring diaper rashes since she was born, including a severe case after taking antibiotics.
"It's because that diaper environment is just no fun for the skin," Dr. Jim says. "It's moist, it's warm, it never gets aired out. Poop gets in there, pee gets in there, and the skin just gets irritated and rashy"
There are two types of diaper rash: contact and fungal. Contact, or irritant diaper rash, is the most common and is caused by a wet diaper and loose stool that irritates the baby's bottom.
"The [fungal] yeast diaper rash is a little different category," Dr. Jim says. "Just being on antibiotics predisposes somebody to yeast. Women get yeast infections, babies get the diaper rashes."
To treat both types of diaper rashes, use a zinc oxide cream, vitamin A and D ointment or hydrocortisone cream to help soothe the irritation.
"If you don't use an anti-fungal, an anti-yeast cream, the rash is going to keep coming back," Dr. Jim says. "Probably for the first week, you're going to use all of these together. You can either whip them all together in your palm to mix them and put them on, or put them on individually. Doing all these things together will really help it go away.
"If [Morgan] is in a diaper, she's got to have cream on," Dr. Jim adds. "You never want to let the cream wear off, so you've got to put a lot on. It's like you're icing a cake. If you take the diaper off and the cream is all soaked in, you didn't put enough on."