To Your Good Health

Probiotics may help

DEAR DR. ROACH: I read your recent column on inflammatory bowel syndrome, which I have had for years. I could not go out to eat without having to go to the restroom before leaving. It got so bad that I couldn’t go to weddings, picnics, etc. I started using Metamucil, which did help and made life better, but still I never knew when the cramps and gas would flare up. Then my doctor told me that daily probiotics might help. At that point, I was willing to try anything. He stated that all probiotics work the same, so there is no need to buy the most expensive. I started taking them every day, and though it didn’t help overnight, the doctor did say to take them for at least a month to see if it works.

What a different world for me. I am 95 percent better! No more cramps that would double me over, no more diarrhea that would leave me exhausted for days, and no more vomiting! I was hoping you could tell your readers of my experience and what a difference it has made in my life. Hopefully we can help other people.

— Anonymous

ANSWER: The evidence to support the effectiveness of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome is mixed, but I have had some patients with improvements as remarkable as yours. However, it has been my experience that it may matter what type of probiotic you use. I have seen a few people not respond at all to one type and then have a good response to a different one (the difference is the type or types of healthy bacteria used). I think probiotics are a very reasonable option for people who do not respond to lifestyle and dietary changes.

DEAR DR. ROACH: Frequently I see or hear information about people who have dry eyes, with the usual treatment being drops or medication to resolve the problem.

My problem is just the opposite: frequent tearing. It’s not constant but periodic, to the point that I must wipe my eyes. I am 82 years old, in good health, with a recent diagnosis of cataracts, no known allergies and using only one prescription medication, for high blood pressure.

Can you give me any recommendations before I see my eye doctor on my next visit?

— M.S.

ANSWER: There are many causes of tearing eyes, and your eye doctor certainly will be able to help you. In the meantime, one approach may seem counterintuitive but is frequently the answer: Try using lubricating eyedrops on a frequent basis. Often, the eyes tear in response to dryness. The eye has two different systems for lubrication, and when one system doesn’t work, the other can compensate. Using the eyedrops regularly can prevent that tearing.

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