The doc­tors’ word on lac­tose in­tol­er­ance, di­a­betes and hair pulling

This is­sue, our ex­perts an­swer your ques­tions on hair pulling, di­a­betes and lac­tose in­tol­er­ance.

Canadian Living - - CONTENTS -


QI have a habit of pulling out the hairs on my head. Is some­thing wrong with me? DR. TAY­LOR SAYS “What it could be is tri­chotil­lo­ma­nia, a com­mon im­pulse-con­trol dis­or­der where peo­ple have the ir­re­sistible urge to pull out the hairs from their scalp, eye­lashes or eye­brows. What sep­a­rates this con­di­tion from a mild ir­ri­ta­tion is the fre­quency of the ac­tion and the emo­tions tied to it. Prior to act­ing on the im­pulse, many suf­fer­ers will feel tense or try to re­sist the urge, then an over­whelm­ing feel­ing of re­lief, sat­is­fac­tion, grat­i­fi­ca­tion or relaxation fol­lows the ac­tion. This ab­nor­mal be­hav­iour can start for a num­ber of rea­sons, in­clud­ing bore­dom or a re­ac­tion to a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion or con­flict. Left un­treated—or if the prob­lem per­sists and wors­ens be­cause of se­vere hair loss or a bare patch— it can lead to fur­ther so­cial or work-re­lated is­sues. To treat this dis­or­der, we first adopt be­havioural ther­apy, where we try to re­verse the habit, re­plac­ing it with some­thing else, such as mak­ing a fist or tap­ping fin­gers.”

QWhat’s the best way to mon­i­tor di­a­betes? At what age should I get screened? DR. FELDMAN SAYS “Stud­ies have shown that with weight loss and life­style changes, in­clud­ing di­etary ad­just­ments and ex­er­cise, a di­a­betes di­ag­no­sis can be re­versed, par­tic­u­larly if it’s re­cent. Mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to your diet has been shown to be ef­fec­tive. This means low­er­ing your caloric in­take, re­duc­ing your con­sump­tion of high glycemic in­dex foods (such as ba­nanas, mel­ons and white pasta, bread and pota­toes) and eat­ing more pro­tein- and fi­brerich foods. As for ex­er­cise, in­cor­po­rate a mix of car­dio­vas­cu­lar and strength train­ing. In the ab­sence of risk fac­tors, such as age, eth­nic­ity, weight and fam­ily his­tory, it’s rec­om­mended that, start­ing at age 45, you should get screened ev­ery three years.”

QI some­times get a stom­achache af­ter I eat dairy. Am I lac­to­sein­tol­er­ant? DR. LIPSCOMBE SAYS “When lac­tose doesn’t break down—due to a lack of the lac­tase en­zyme—you might ex­pe­ri­ence one or more side-ef­fects, such as gas or di­ar­rhea. Here’s how lac­tose in­tol­er­ance is di­ag­nosed.

1. “First, a doc­tor will rule out other more con­cern­ing causes of ab­dom­i­nal pain, such as Crohn’s dis­ease, col­i­tis, celiac dis­ease, ul­cers or ap­pen­dici­tis.

2. “Next, a doc­tor will check if you have one or more of the fol­low­ing symp­toms from half an hour to two hours af­ter con­sum­ing dairy: ab­dom­i­nal pain, bloat­ing, di­ar­rhea, nau­sea or ex­cess gas.

3. “The eas­i­est method to con­firm an in­tol­er­ance is to elim­i­nate dairy en­tirely for a short pe­riod—aim for a week—then in­tro­duce a few items back into your diet to see if the symp­toms re­turn. Fol­low­ing that, a med­i­cal or blood test can be done, but those are less fre­quent and more in­va­sive prac­tices.”

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