Health Tips: Are your food choices triggering inflammatory bowel disease symptoms?

John F. Kennedy suffered from digestive problems, including persistent diarrhea. He took antispasmodics to ease his stomach cramping. Not much was known about his condition at the time, but now, some doctors suggest he suffered from inflammatory bowel disease. 

IBD is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It affects around 3 million Americans. There are two types: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Common symptoms include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or bloody stools, weight loss and fatigue. IBD is also linked to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. And, it’s costly. According to some research, annual out-of-pocket medical costs for folks with the condition are more than twice what folks without IBD spend ($2,213 versus $979).

The physical, emotional and financial hardships caused by the disease are why it’s so important to manage IBD symptoms with healthy lifestyle choices, especially dietary ones. 

A recent study published in the journal PlosOne exposed the harmful food choices that are associated with IBD: french fries, sodas and energy drinks, cheese and cookies -- in short, what the researchers from Georgia State University called “junk foods.” 

If you want to make smart food choices that can help control your IBD symptoms, here’s what to do: 

-- Choose veggies that are lower in fiber, such as carrots, asparagus tips, green beans, peeled cucumbers and bell peppers. Eat them steamed, not raw.

-- Opt for fruits, such as applesauce, melons, papaya and bananas.

-- Skip red meat and enjoy salmon, white meat chicken and tofu. 

-- Drink plenty of water! 

Did you hear about the perils of sudden hearing loss?

Lance Allred, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 and 2009, was the first deaf NBA player. Hearing impaired since birth, he was able to excel in high school and college ball, become a pro and, after he retired, an in-demand motivational speaker. But many folks don’t have years to learn to manage their hearing challenges; instead, they’re surprised in their 50s or 60s by sudden hearing loss. Too many fail to act quickly enough to prevent it from becoming permanent.

What’s called sensorineural hearing loss is a type of nerve deafness that affects at least 60,000 people in the U.S. annually. Researchers think it may be triggered by a viral infection, immune system dysfunction, blocked blood flow to the ear or an inflammatory injury. According to Dr. Steven Rauch from Harvard’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear, you may notice a “pop” or feel like one ear is blocked up. Then he says, there “is a gradual decline over several minutes or even hours, like air leaking from a tire.”

Unfortunately, many people ignore the problem. But there’s only a window of 10-14 days before it becomes permanent. Prompt treatment with oral and/or injected corticosteroids is effective if the symptoms are mild. 

 So, if you have sudden hearing loss in one ear, set up an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist to rule out a more benign cause like excess earwax. Then if needed, get treatment that will let you enjoy all sports broadcasts when they’re up and running!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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