Dr. Ellie Cannon: Why do I get so sick and sick to my stomach?

each for three or four weeks I have severe stomach pains and other digestive problems. I had a scan and they came back normal. I’ve tried liquid diets but they don’t help. What could go wrong?

Bowel symptoms that come and go are likely caused by irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. The problem is very common and is often related to eating certain foods. Patients may experience abdominal pain, as well as constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

IBS can only be confirmed once, serious culprits are ruled out by tests. As such, endoscopy and colonoscopy, which look at the upper part of the intestine and stomach, and blood tests are usually the first port of call.

A special diet will not help. Instead, experts advise identifying trigger foods and avoiding them. Doctors may recommend a food plan called the FODMAP diet, which has been shown to help reduce IBS symptoms.

Bowel symptoms that come and go are likely caused by irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. The problem is very common and is often related to eating certain foods. Patients may experience abdominal pain, as well as constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

This involves eliminating foods that react with gut microbes to cause excess gas, then reintroducing them to identify triggers. There are also medicines to help with stomach upset and pain.

Another possible cause of these symptoms is a digestive problem called SIBO.

Here, bacteria grow in the wrong part of the intestines, causing regular swelling, pain, and altered bowel habits.

Since the problem is bacterial, it responds to a course of antibiotics, usually prescribed by a hospital specialist.

Tests for SIBO are available both on the NHS and privately.

Another thing that doctors may think about is the gynecological condition of endometriosis. This is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus begins to grow elsewhere, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic organs. Along with the pain, it can trigger bowel symptoms every month, along with the menstrual cycle.

I’m starting to leak water in my underwear – is this normal for being a 67 year old woman? I am overweight and have been treated for breast cancer.

People often think that urinary incontinence is a natural part of aging. In fact, no leakage at all is acceptable and normal. If the problem affects the patient’s quality of life, then doctors must deal with it.

More from Dr Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday…

There are two types – stress incontinence and urinary incontinence. The stress type causes discharge that occurs when you sneeze, cough, and laugh or run.

People with urinary incontinence have a sudden urge to pass water, which usually doesn’t stop.

But people can have two types, as well as regular loss of urine.

This can be related to obesity and cancer treatment, because hormones given to stop the growth of tumors suppress the female hormone estrogen, which weakens and damages the pelvic floor, causing urine to pass too easily. Doctors should check for diabetes, kidney function, urinary tract infections, prolapse, and problems with pelvic strength.

The GP should also talk about lifestyle factors that may exacerbate the problem, such as caffeine, alcohol, medication, pregnancy and birth history.

Continuous leakage of urine may be a sign of something called a fistula. This bladder disorder causes a hole between the bladder and the vagina.

Urine may flow uncontrollably through the vagina all the time.

In most cases, surgery is required to repair the damage to the bladder and close the opening.

My husband is 70 years old and takes pills for high blood pressure. Last year, his readings were a little high, and the doctor suggested increasing the dose without even seeing him. Now they say he has to take statins because he has a 28 percent chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the next ten years. How can a GP know this?

Before prescribing drugs for heart attacks and strokes, doctors calculate a risk score using a special computer program.

It’s called Qrisk – and takes into account many factors such as smoking, waist size, medical problems, family history and even your postcode.

If the calculator determines that you have a greater than ten percent chance of having a stroke or heart attack, doctors’ guidelines recommend prescribing a statin to reduce the risk.

Controlling blood pressure is important, but a statin can help lower a type of fat in the blood called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein – the harmful type of cholesterol.

Controlling blood pressure is important, but a statin can help lower a type of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, called lipoprotein, a harmful type of cholesterol in the blood.

Controlling blood pressure is important, but a statin can help lower a type of fat in the blood called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein – the harmful type of cholesterol.

A 28 percent risk figure is high – so it should be taken seriously. Doctors expect a similar risk in patients with diabetes or who smoke. But we also make mistakes, miscalculations can always happen, so it’s worth discussing.

Most of my patients who take statins do well and have no side effects. We monitor patients closely with blood tests and advise them to stop taking statins if problems develop.

There are other important non-drug interventions that can reduce the risk of heart disease, such as exercise, weight loss, and reducing salt intake.

Have a question for Dr. Ellie?

Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.

Dr. Ellie can only respond in a general context and may not respond or respond individually in individual cases. Always consult your personal physician if you have any health concerns.

My verdict on the great antidepressant debate

Like many doctors, I was concerned last week by the claims that antidepressants don’t work. After the publication of a review which concluded that depression is not caused by an imbalance of the mood-elevating serotonin. Commentators have argued that this is evidence that conventional serotonin-enhancing antidepressants are ineffective. I appeared on ITV’s This Morning with reviewer Professor Joanna Moncrief to argue that people are jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Just because depression isn’t the only cause doesn’t mean serotonin deficiency can’t be. I take paracetamol for headaches – but headaches are not caused by lack of paracetamol.

We doctors are at the forefront of treating mental illness in our clinics every day. We are seeing life-changing benefits from our patients who take this medicine. They don’t care how it works. If clinical trials show that they are safe and effective, I will prescribe them.

Like many doctors, I was concerned last week by the claims that antidepressants don't work.  After the publication of a review which concluded that depression is not caused by an imbalance of the mood-elevating serotonin.  Commentators have cited this as evidence that general serotonin-elevating antidepressants are ineffective.  I appeared on ITV's This Morning alongside Professor Joanna Moncrief, author of the photo on the left (Dr Ellie Cannon, pictured, right) to argue that people are jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Like many doctors, I was concerned last week by the claims that antidepressants don’t work. After the publication of a review which concluded that depression is not caused by an imbalance of the mood-elevating serotonin. Commentators have argued that this is evidence that conventional serotonin-enhancing antidepressants are ineffective. I appeared on ITV’s This Morning to argue that people are jumping to the wrong conclusions, along with author of the review pictured left, Professor Joanna Moncrief (Dr Ellie Cannon, pictured, right).

Don’t panic about your risk of dementia

After reading the story about this link in my health section, I received several emails from readers who were concerned that their thyroid problems could lead to dementia.

I would like to address the concerns. Research like this is important because it helps us build a picture of how diseases develop and who may be at risk. However, as we reported, the study did not show that the relationship was clear. Although the researchers found a strong link between thyroid disease and people with dementia, they did not explain why one caused the other. When it comes to thinking about your risk, it’s much more helpful to focus on the facts we know for sure: smoking, high blood pressure, and excess weight all increase it. These are things you can do something about.

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