Although you hopefully like and trust your family doctor, sometimes it can be embarrassing to ask really personal questions. Yet keeping secrets could lead to worse health problems in the end.
It's also important to keep in mind that there's nothing you can say about your body that will shock or embarrass your doctor. Chances are, if something itches, hurts, smells, bleeds or doesn't feel normal, you need a doctor's help to get better. Talking to your doctor can not only get the problem treated but also calm your fears.
Here are 6 questions you might be too afraid to ask your doctor - and the answers you're seeking.
1. How do I stop sweating so much?
Although stained, soggy clothes can be annoying, sweat is necessary to regulate body temperature. But some people obviously have it worse than others. Look for an over-the-counter antiperspirant that contains 12% aluminum chloride.
2. What can I do about my stinky feet?
Sweat plus bacteria equals foot odor. Here are some tips for fresher feet:
- Wash with an antibacterial soap to reduce bacteria.
- Use the same high-powered antiperspirant with aluminum chloride recommended for underarm wetness. Apply before bed to give it time to plug up your foot’s sweat glands. (In the morning, you’ll walk on it, which can wipe away the active ingredient.)
3. Why are my breasts different sizes?
Breasts are rarely the exact same size. Usually, it's a subtle difference, but sometimes they can vary by an entire cup size. Breast shape and symmetry depend on tissue, fat distribution and bra support. Your size can change daily with estrogen levels, pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, women notice size differences most while they're nursing.
4. Why am I constipated?
It can come with age. As you get older, your bowels change and slow down. Medications – including painkillers (prescription and over-the-counter) and antidepressants – can also clog up your plumbing. But most likely, constipation means you’re not eating right or moving enough. To get back on track:
- Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and/or a fiber supplement).
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
- Drink at least 4 glasses of water a day, plus an extra glass for each caffeinated beverage you sip.
- Over-the-counter laxatives can also help. They stimulate the intestines to contract or soften stools so they’re easier to pass. (But check with your doctor first to make sure they don’t interfere with other medications you’re taking.)
5. Why am I so gassy?
Excess gas means you’re eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet; it doesn’t signal a disease. Beans have a well-deserved rep for producing it. Milk, carrots, raisins, bananas, onions, bagels, pretzels – even gum – are other common culprits. These foods create nitrogen and methane gas in your stomach, which either comes up as a burp or out down below. It’s usually more uncomfortable than dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
Keep a food diary to track what’s triggering your troubles. And swap gas-producing snacks for probiotic yogurt. Made from live micro-organisms, probiotics may help improve digestion by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria.You can also purchase Bean-o, a natural enzyme taken before eating high-fiber foods, and anti-gas remedies containing simethicone (Gas-X, Maalox Anti-Gas, Mylanta Gas Relief). These relieve symptoms like pressure, fullness and bloating.
6. Why am I wetting the bed?
In adults, bed-wetting (also known as nocturnal enuresis) is frustrating but usually not serious. Still, you should seek treatment. Soaking the sheets is most often caused by an overactive bladder, which can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication. But it can also be a sign of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or bladder cancer.
If any of the above issues concern you, we encourage you to courageously ask your doctor so that you can put your mind at ease - and hopefully fix whatever may be ailing you.