Q. A reader wrote to you about a recent flare-up of atopic dermatitis. I’d like to suggest that this person consider allergy testing to identify what may have caused it.
I have had eczema all my life and usually wear gloves for cleaning, dishes, gardening, etc., to avoid most problems. A couple of years ago I had a severe break-out that lasted months. It was difficult to do anything, as my hands were so swollen, itchy and painful.
I went to a naturopathic physician who did a simple blood test to identify the allergen. The test determined that I was “off the charts” allergic to eggs. I had been eating an egg every day for breakfast for the whole time period of the breakout. While I had been eating eggs sporadically all my life, I had never eaten them every day until then.
The doctor suggested I stop eating eggs to see if it would clear up my eczema. After six weeks, it did! I can now eat eggs sporadically as I used to without too much difficulty, but not daily!
A. Allergic reactions to eggs are frequently seen among babies and young children with eczema. This appears to be less common for adults. Nonetheless, both kids and adults with hard-to-treat eczema (atopic dermatitis) may have multiple allergic sensitivities (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, September 2018). As you note, avoiding an allergic trigger when possible may be the best treatment.
Q. My 60-year-old husband had his colonoscopy two years ago. All was normal.
Shortly thereafter he started experiencing many bouts of constipation and occasional loose stools. He rarely has a normal evacuation.
The gastroenterologist performed another colonoscopy this year and found nothing abnormal. My husband has had a breath test to rule out an infection with H. pylori. It was normal. He’s been checked for allergies (none) and has lost weight. Crohn’s and celiac disease also have been ruled out.
We believe his gut flora has been compromised and are at a loss as to what can be done to remedy his situation. Can you suggest a course of action for a 6-foot-tall, 175-pound man who takes no medication and is otherwise healthy?
A. Colonoscopy is very important to detect the earliest stages of colon cancer. The preparation for colonoscopy involves cleansing the colon. There is some evidence to suggest that this cleansing process can disrupt the balance of intestinal microbes (European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, May 2016).
Your husband’s physician may wish to order a stool analysis to detect whether there is microbial imbalance. Organizations such as uBiome.com and Verisana.com do this type of analysis. If there is alteration of the microbial ecology, probiotics may help restore the natural balance (Advanced Biomedical Research, June 25, 2018).
Q. Thank you for writing about stopping hiccups by drinking water while holding your ears closed. I’ve had hiccups for six days and nothing worked to stop them.
I was searching the internet last night because the hiccups wouldn’t let me sleep. When I came across your article at 3 a.m., I tried the technique. The hiccups disappeared, and I went right to sleep! This remedy was a lifesaver.
A. Drinking water while holding your ears closed is tricky on your own. It is much easier if you have someone to help.
(Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla., 32803, or email them via their website: PeoplesPharmacy.com.)