Treating Hemorrhoids

June 27, 2013

There are a number of over-the-counter creams and other products that are available to patients with hemorrhoids. “These products may help you feel more comfortable,” Lerner says, “but they won’t get rid of the underlying hemorrhoids, such as internal hemorrhoids, that commonly cause bleeding.”

According to FDA gastroenterologist Rajat Malik, M.D., other ways to relieve mild symptoms may include soaking regularly for 10 to 15 minutes in a warm bath, and using wet toilet paper after a bowel movement.

“With these measures, mild symptoms should decrease in two to seven days,” Malik says “If your symptoms don’t improve with these home treatments, and certainly if they get worse, it’s time to talk to your health care provider.”

If the hemorrhoid is thrombosed (there is a blood clot), your physician may decide to remove the clot with a small incision, Lerner explains. “You can do this under local anesthesia and as an outpatient,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of uncomfortable, unhappy patients walk into my office with a thrombosis, and then leave happy after it’s been excised.”

Other procedures include ligation (cutting off the hemorrhoid’s blood supply with a rubber band), sclerotherapy (the injection of a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid tissue to shrink it), and coagulation, which uses a laser or infrared light to harden and shrink hemorrhoids. “FDA is responsible for reviewing the devices used in both ligation and coagulation,” Lerner says.

Large hemorrhoids may not be able to be treated with less invasive procedures such as ligation and sclerothapy, and may require surgery, known as a hemorrhoidectomy.

Preventing Hemorrhoids

Of course with hemorrhoids, as with so many other ailments, prevention is key, Malik says. For the most part, the best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft, so they pass easily. Some ways to do this are:

  • eating foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains;
  • drinking plenty of fluids;
  • exercising and not sitting for long periods of time;
  • using stool softeners; and
  • using fiber supplements.

Asked if he believes most people would rather search anonymously online for information about hemorrhoids than ask their doctors, Lerner says not necessarily. “Most people came to see me not because of the hemorrhoid itself, but because of the bleeding associated with it.”

“By the time they came to see me, they were usually pretty uncomfortable,” he adds. “They were more than happy to talk about hemorrhoids if it meant getting some relief.”

Natural Tattoo Removal

June 23, 2013

Laser tattoo removal is very painful, more painful than getting a tattoo. People who go this route often say it feels like hot oil is being sprayed on the area. Tattoo removal does not have to be painful and many tattoo removers on the market can help get rid of tattoos in a pain-free way. Additionally, tattoo removal creams are far more cost efficient than laser tattoo removal which can cost thousands of dollars.

When looking for a tattoo removal cream, there are some key features to consider. First and foremost, it is important to know if it is safe to use. Tattoo removers should use ingredients that are safe and effective and lacking in side effects or adverse reactions. Another aspect of high quality tattoo removal creams is the use of Chromabright. Chromabright is an ingredient that has been proven to make tattoos fade away, it is also a very versatile ingredient in that it can be used risk-free on all skin types.

Hemorrhoids Websites

June 17, 2013

Whether you consider them a fit topic for conversation or not, it’s evident that people want information about hemorrhoids.

In Google’s annual roundup of popular search terms, hemorrhoids was the top trending health issue in the United States for 2012. (The “top trending health issue” means that this particular search had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2013 as compared to 2012.)

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these swollen and inflamed veins in the lower part of the rectum or anus affect 75% of people at some point in their lives. Hemorrhoids are most common in adults ages 45 to 65, and particularly for women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also contributors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for evaluating a number of products used to treat and remove the often itchy and sometimes painful protuberances.

What causes hemorrhoids? How are they treated? Are there preventive steps you can take to keep from having hemorrhoids yourself?

Causes and Symptoms

For the most part, hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure in the veins of the anus. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal (not covered by skin), which form inside the rectum, and external (covered by skin), located near the anal opening.

“You often can’t see or feel the internal ones,” says FDA medical officer Herbert Lerner, M.D., a colon-rectal surgeon. “But straining during bowel movements and constipation can cause these hemorrhoids to bleed and occasionally push through the anal opening.” This is known as a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid, and it causes pain or irritation.

Sometimes blood pools in an external hemorrhoid and forms a clot, Lerner says, which can result in severe pain, swelling and inflammation. If the blood is dark red or black, you should call your health care professional, as it can be a sign of something more serious, he cautions.

Common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • itching and pain (especially when sitting);
  • bright red blood on toilet tissue, stool, or in the toilet bowl;
  • pain during bowel movements; and
  • one or more hard, sore lumps near the anus.

Food Labels

June 9, 2013

As someone who cares about what your family eats, you make it a practice when shopping to read the labels on food packages.  And you have the right to expect that the information on the label, including the ingredient list, is accurate.

The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has your back.

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act—which provides authority for FDA’s consumer-protection work—requires that labels on packaged food products in interstate commerce not be false or misleading in any way.

To that end, as resources permit, FDA monitors food products to ensure that the labels are truthful and not misleading, explains Michael W. Roosevelt, acting director of compliance at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). If a product is not labeled as required by law, the agency takes appropriate action.

For example, when FDA received complaints from U.S. firms and attorneys alleging that imports of pomegranate juice concentrates were not, as labeled, 100% pomegranate, the agency took a closer look.

After conducting its own analyses, FDA found that some of the samples contained undeclared ingredients, including artificial colors, sweeteners and less expensive fruit juices, such as black currant, apple, pear or cherry juices, in place of pomegranate juice.

FDA issued an import alert for pomegranate juice exported by certain companies in Iran and Turkey, based on findings that the samples FDA analyzed were “not as they were represented to be on the labels and therefore adulterated and misbranded.” An import alert allows FDA to detain, without physical examination,   imported products that appear to violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. When a shipment is detained, the importer has a window of opportunity to introduce evidence to overcome the appearance of a violation, during which time the product cannot be distributed.

In other circumstances, when the agency identifies a food product with labeling that is false or misleading (misbranded), it may inform the manufacturer, often in the form of a warning letter, of the violation of law and ask the firm to correct the problem. Most firms contacted by FDA about a labeling violation voluntarily comply, Roosevelt says.

Those that do not can be subject to additional legal action to remove the misbranded products from commerce. Under such circumstances, these products cannot return to the market until the manufacturers take action to correct the violations.

“In the case of the pomegranate juice,” Roosevelt says, “the burden is on the importer to show that the product labeling is accurate.” “Otherwise, the juice is not going to make it into the U.S.”

Removing Tattoos

June 1, 2013

That tattoo on your arm of a former flame—the one that seemed like a great idea years ago—is kind of embarrassing today. And your spouse is not too crazy about it either.

You may not know that FDA considers the inks used in tattoos to be cosmetics, and the agency takes action to protect consumers when safety issues arise related to the inks.

At the other end of the tattoo process, FDA also regulates laser devices used to remove tattoos.

FDA has cleared for marketing several types of lasers as light-based, prescription devices for tattoo lightening or removal. A Massachusetts company recently received FDA clearance to market its laser workstation for the removal of tattoos and benign skin lesions.

According to a poll conducted in January 2012 by pollster Harris Interactive, 1 in 8 (14%) of the 21% of American adults who have tattoos regret getting one. And the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) reports that in 2011, its doctors performed nearly 100,000 tattoo removal procedures, up from the 86,000 performed in 2010.

Unfortunately, removing a tattoo is not as simple as changing your mind.

Artists create tattoos by using an electrically powered machine that moves a needle up and down to inject ink into the skin, penetrating the epidermis, or outer layer, and depositing a drop of ink into the dermis, the second layer. The cells of the dermis are more stable compared with those of the epidermis, so the ink will mostly stay in place for a person’s lifetime. Tattoos are meant to be permanent.

An effective and safe way to remove tattoos is through laser surgery, performed by a dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal, says FDA’s Mehmet Kosoglu, Ph.D., who reviews applications for marketing clearances of laser-devices.

With laser removal, pulses of high-intensity laser energy pass through the epidermis and are selectively absorbed by the tattoo pigment. The laser breaks the pigment into smaller particles, which may be metabolized or excreted by the body, or transported to and stored in lymph nodes or other tissues, Kosoglu explains.

The type of laser used to remove a tattoo depends on the tattoo’s pigment colors, he adds. Because every color of ink absorbs different wavelengths of light, multi-colored tattoos may require the use of multiple lasers. Lighter colors such as green, red, and yellow are the hardest colors to remove, while blue and black are the easiest.