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Answers to questions about nosebleeds, colon cleansing, and dry skin.

Q Should I worry about nosebleeds?

A Your nose contains a large number of blood vessels, all of which can be ruptured and cause nosebleeds. And, the fact that your nose protrudes from your face makes it susceptible to trauma that can produce bleeding. Often, that trauma is self-induced--resulting from blowing or picking your nose too hard--or from nasal irritation caused by colds and allergies.

Nosebleeds occur more commonly in winter, when the air typically is drier inside and outside your home. Other risk factors for nosebleeds include high blood pressure, alcohol abuse and the use of certain medications, such as blood-thinning drugs.

To stop a nosebleed, sit upright with your head tilted forward slightly. Pinch your nose for at least five minutes, breathing through your mouth. Once the bleeding stops, keep your head higher than the level of your heart, and avoid picking or blowing your nose for several hours. To reduce your risk of further nosebleeds, lubricate your nasal passages with saline spray, ointment or petroleum jelly.

In most cases, nosebleeds are not a serious medical problem, but if the bleeding lasts more than 20 minutes, go to the emergency room. Tell your doctor if you experience frequent nosebleeds, especially if you are taking blood thinners.

Q Is colon cleansing safe?

A Colonic hydrotherapy, in which a doctor flushes the colon with a large volume of fluid, is touted as a treatment for digestive disorders, such as constipation, indigestion and colitis. Some advocates also endorse its use for treating unrelated problems, such as alcoholism, asthma, arthritis and certain skin conditions.

However, the idea that cleansing the colon of an average person will produce health benefits remains unproven, and for most people, the colon is well equipped to handle stool and cleanse itself. In fact, colonic hydrotherapy may remove bacteria that are vital to digestion, possibly leading to problems like malabsorption, diverticulitis or colitis. So, for most people, it's best to let the colon do its work.

Still, colonic hydrotherapy may be an option if you have severe constipation despite using laxatives and other, gentler treatments. Otherwise, avoid constipation and practice good digestive health by eating a fiber-rich diet (good sources include fruits and vegetables, wheat bran and other whole grains), staying physically active, eating regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, and not putting off the urge to go to the bathroom.

Q What can I do to prevent dry skin?

A The dry air of winter can take its toll on your hide, and most everyone experiences itchy, dry or cracked skin when the weather turns cold. But there are a number of things you can do--both inside and outside your body--to keep your skin moist and healthy during the winter months.

On the inside, stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water--about six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Minimize your consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, all of which have a dehydrating effect.

Externally, use a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten the air inside your home and combat the drying effects of your furnace. Regularly replace the humidifier filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

Also, avoid taking hot, prolonged showers or baths, which can rob your skin of its natural protective oils. Avoid using harsh cleansers that dry the skin of your hands and elsewhere. Instead, use moisturizing soaps or cleansers, and apply oil-based moisturizing lotions to your skin. If dry skin remains a problem, see your physician.


Richard S. Lang, M.D., M.P.H., EA.C.P.

Vice Chairman, Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute
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Title Annotation:ASK DR. LANG
Author:Lang, Richard S.
Publication:Men's Health Advisor
Article Type:Interview
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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