DEAR DR. ROACH: I’m a 77-year-old man in good health except for irritable bowel syndrome for 35 years. Six months ago, I started taking two low-dose aspirins daily as a preventive, and since then all IBS symptoms have disappeared. Stools and frequency are now normal and without any intense cramping, gas or urgency, which I had for all those years. Frankly, I’m pleasantly shocked, since I thought IBS had no cure. I take no other medications or supplements, so it seems likely that the aspirin has alleviated or maybe cured my IBS. I thought other readers might be interested. Any thoughts? — B.C.
ANSWER: Yours is a very unusual but not unheard of response to aspirin. Most people with IBS find that aspirin and other anti-inflammatories worsen IBS symptoms. I have read of others who have the same response you seem to, however.
Aspirin remains controversial as a preventive in people without heart disease, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks in people at high risk for heart disease, even if they are undiagnosed. Always speak with your doctor before beginning a course of aspirin, even if it’s low-dose.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have taken the same dosage of Synthroid for several years. Since this dose successfully maintains my thyroid level, is it still necessary for me to have my bloodwork done once a year, or could I either stop having bloodwork done or have the test performed every other year? — R.M.
ANSWER: In general, the dose of replacement thyroid remains roughly constant over the long term. However, the dose may need to be adjusted for several reasons, including weight change, other medication use, change in absorption due to gastrointestinal developments or pregnancy. Also, even normal aging alters the metabolism of thyroid hormone, so I’d recommend continuing to check levels once yearly at a minimum.
The booklet on thyroid disorders provides insight into the various forms and treatment of this disease. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 402W, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Several weeks ago, I contracted a bad cold with much congestion.
I have received an antibiotic plus nasal spray, and most of the congestion is gone. I have no pain. My concern is that my ears are still partially blocked. I can clear them by pinching my nose and blowing, such as one does in an aircraft, but I must do this frequently. I am worried about hearing damage. I don’t know what else to do. — R.F.
ANSWER: The Eustachian tube connects your middle ear with the back of the throat and equalizes the pressure in your ear. It is common for congestion to linger. Fortunately, it does not permanently damage hearing, and usually goes away by itself. Decongestants can help, but do not use a decongestant spray such as Afrin (oxymetazoline) for more than three days.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med. cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to Good Health, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. ©2017 North America Synd.