- News Releases
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My daughter is 19 and was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. What is considered a flare-up? Her symptoms seem to be quite mild so far. Is it possible that this will continue, or do they usually worsen with time? ANSWER: Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract lining. This inflammation can involve any part of the digestive tract, but it’s most common in the lower portion of the small intestine and in the large intestine. Unlike ulcerative colitis (another inflammatory condition), Crohn’s disease usually affects the entire thickness of the bowel wall. People with Crohn’s disease typically have intermittent symptoms due to active inflammation. These are called flares. The flares usually alternate with periods of remission when there’s no active inflammation or symptoms. A flare may happen if a person with Crohn’s disease doesn’t take medication as prescribed, develops certain infections, receives antibiotics, or takes pain medications, including aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Stress also may trigger a flare and result in symptoms of Crohn’s disease becoming worse.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Why is it that so many kids these days have peanut allergies? I don’t remember it being an issue even 20 years ago. Is it something most kids will grow out of? I have heard of children doing a peanut allergy study to “cure” them of their allergy. What does that involve? ANSWER: You’re correct that the number of children with peanut allergies has increased significantly over the last several decades. Although researchers have several theories, at this time there’s no definitive explanation for the increase. A variety of studies are currently underway to better understand peanut allergies and to help find more effective ways of treating them. Over the last several decades, the prevalence of peanut allergies in children in the United States has more than tripled. The reasons behind this dramatic increase are unclear. Lifestyle, diet choices and genetics all seem to play a role.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Every few weeks my toddler will develop a fever that lasts a couple of days but then goes away. Other than the fever, she doesn’t have any other symptoms. Could it be periodic fever syndrome? How is that diagnosed, and is treatment for it different than treating a “normal” fever in kids? ANSWER: From your description, it sounds like your child could have periodic fever syndrome. Make an appointment with her doctor to have the condition evaluated. A diagnosis of periodic fever syndrome is based on symptoms. Effective treatment is available. A fever is a rise in body temperature. It’s often a sign of infection, but not always. The fever itself generally doesn’t cause any harm. In fact, it can act as a protective mechanism, helping to rid the body of bacteria, viruses and other causes of infection. Average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius. But normal body temperature can range from 97 F (36.1 C) to 99 F (37.2 C) or higher. Body temperature may change depending on a person’s level of activity and the time of day. In general, younger people have higher normal body temperatures than older people.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: For the past year or so, I feel like I am often either constipated or I have diarrhea, with only a few “normal” days here and there. I have a friend who has IBS, and she suggested I be tested for it as well. But my symptoms are not as severe as hers. Would you suggest I see a doctor about my symptoms? ANSWER: Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can cause the symptoms you describe, but other medical conditions can trigger them, too. It would be a good idea to see your doctor and talk to him or her about your symptoms. Although no specific test to diagnose IBS exists at this time, your doctor can then decide whether additional tests are needed to rule out other disorders. IBS is a disorder that affects the intestines. It’s not clear what causes IBS, but several factors seem to play a role in its development. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food — which later becomes waste — from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have IBS, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal. That can lead to abdominal pain or discomfort as food, gas or stool passes through the GI tract. IBS is also associated with bowel irregularity — sometimes diarrhea, sometimes constipation, sometimes both. Common associated symptoms can include gas and bloating.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What are the best ways to prevent hair loss or to regrow hair? I want to try the hair-growth shampoos, but have heard that you have to continue to use them for life or the hair will fall out at an even faster rate. Is this true? Are there better ways to regrow hair? ANSWER: Hair loss can happen for a number of reasons. Most often, it’s caused by a combination of heredity and aging. Treatments are available that may slow that type of hair loss and help regrow hair, including over-the-counter therapies like shampoos. Most people lose about 50 to 100 hairs every day. This hair loss usually doesn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair because new hair grows in at the same time. The cycle of hair growth, shedding and regrowth can be disrupted, however, due to several factors, such as family history, hormonal changes, medical conditions and medication. Physical and emotional stress may also lead to hair loss.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: When I was in my teens and 20s, I regularly used a tanning bed. I am now 43 and very worried about melanoma, so I go to a dermatologist every year for a skin check. I have numerous moles, but the skin check only takes about five minutes. Is this enough time for a thorough evaluation? What are they looking for? What should I be looking for on my own? ANSWER: You’re wise to keep an eye on your skin. Being evaluated by a dermatologist once a year and checking your skin regularly are two excellent steps you can take to catch melanoma and other types of skin cancer early. The sooner skin cancer is found, the better the chances are of curing it. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It develops in cells called melanocytes that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. The exact cause of all melanomas isn’t clear, but exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing the disease.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My husband and I are thinking about starting a family. We are both in our late 30s and know it might take some time. Do ovulation predictor kits really work for people trying to conceive, or are they just a gimmick? Also, are there any tests you recommend before we start trying to get pregnant? ANSWER: For couples who would like to become pregnant, ovulation predictor kits can be very useful. And although there’s no specific tests recommended for everyone before getting pregnant, it is a good idea for both you and your husband to meet with a doctor before you try to conceive to review your medical and family history.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is low sex drive in women a common part of aging? Is there anything that can actually increase sex drive? I’ve read that a new drug to help with low sexual desire in women may soon be available. How would that work? ANSWER: Low sexual desire is a complex issue for women. Both aging and the loss of hormones associated with menopause may contribute to changes in sex drive. But there are many other factors in a woman’s life that can have an effect on sexual desire, too. Although there is a new drug under consideration that may help some women with low sex drive, it’s likely to be helpful for just a small subset of premenopausal women with this concern. Sexual dysfunction is a common problem. About 40 percent of women in the U.S. report that they have had some kind of problem with sexual function. The most common is a persistent or recurrent lack of interest in sex. The technical term for this condition is hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD. HSDD can have a significant impact on a woman’s life, and for many women it can be quite distressing.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What causes toenail fungus, and what can be done to treat it? Is it contagious? ANSWER: Toenail fungus is an infection that’s usually caused by a microscopic organism called dermatophyte fungus. These infections can be contagious, and they are often difficult to eliminate completely. Fortunately, for most healthy adults toenail fungus doesn’t pose any serious health risks. Toenail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your toenail. As the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. Fungal infections are more likely to happen in your toenails than in your fingernails because toenails often are confined in a dark, warm, moist environment — inside your shoes — where fungi can thrive. Toes also have less blood flow than fingers, making it harder for your body’s immune system to detect and stop the infection. The older you are, the more likely you are to get toenail fungus. That’s because as you age, your immune system changes. In addition, your nails become more brittle and drier over time, creating more cracks where fungus can live.