DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have back discomfort upon lying down. It doesn’t matter where I lie or what position I’m in for my back to hurt and often one or both hips. Getting out of bed in the morning is hard and uncomfortable. Once I have had my morning shower and am up and around, I’m fine.
We have thought of replacing our mattress, but how do we find something that will help? What would you recommend? — M.W.
ANSWER: I strongly recommend that you see your family doctor before you invest any money in a mattress.
Some of what you describe fits the picture of osteoarthritis — stiffness upon wakening, difficulty getting out of bed and relief of symptoms after taking a hot shower. Before you spend a penny on a mattress, have your back examined and the problem diagnosed.
The booklet on the different kinds of arthritis explains each and how it is treated. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 301W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I looked in the mirror this morning and couldn’t believe what I saw. My right eye was bright red. It looked like someone had punched me. When my husband saw it, he asked if he had hit me while he was asleep. He didn’t.
It doesn’t hurt. My vision is perfect. My eye looks frightful. Do I need to see a doctor? — Y.T.
ANSWER: Your question is asked repeatedly. My long-distance guess is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The conjunctiva is a cellophane-like covering of the eye. Beneath it is a network of invisible blood vessels. When one of those delicate vessels breaks, blood covers that part of the eye.
Coughing, sneezing or straining causes the breakage. Sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. The eye looks awful, but no real harm is done. The blood is absorbed in about a week. You can hurry it up by putting warm compresses over the closed eye.
You need to see a doctor if the eye begins to pain you, if the blood stays for longer than a week or if it happens time and again.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How good are prunes for constipation? I am often constipated and have unsuccessfully tried many remedies. They might work for a short while, but then I am constipated again. I’d like to try the prune way, if you say that it works. — M.A.
ANSWER: It works for many, but I can’t give you a guarantee. Five to six prunes twice a day can change your bowel habits in a week or so.
Prunes have fiber, one reason why they exert a laxative effect. Fiber keeps food waste moist on its passage out of the body. Prunes also contain sorbitol, a natural laxative.
In addition to the laxative action, prunes have antioxidants, substances that counter the bad effects coming from cell chemistry. Prunes have undergone a name change; they are now called dried plums.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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