DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 65-year-old man just diagnosed two months ago with prostatitis. I hope you can shed some light on the subject. I assure you, lifestyle or hygiene is not the problem. – Anon.

Prostatitis is prostate gland inflammation. It comes in three varieties. The first is acute bacterial prostatitis, which produces a sudden onset of pain in the prostate area, along with spiking fevers. The infected man feels so sick that he willingly goes to bed and often must be hospitalized for intravenous antibiotics. This isn’t your kind of prostatitis.

You might have the second kind, chronic bacterial prostatitis. Here the gland has a low-grade infection that brings an uncomfortable feeling in the region of the prostate along with recurrent urinary tract infections. Often, passing urine causes a burning sensation. This kind of prostate inflammation is treated with a long course of antibiotics – a month or more.

The third variety of prostatitis might also be your variety. It goes by the name of chronic pelvic pain syndrome. There’s an unremitting ache in the pelvis, rectum or prostate gland, and the man might have a sputtering urinary stream. There is no infection of the gland, so antibiotics are not part of the program. Drugs that relax the bladder’s sphincter muscle and the muscles in the prostate gland are prescribed for three or more months. Names of those medicines include Flomax and Uroxatral. This is a difficult condition to treat. It requires a patient patient.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have suffered from postnasal drip and related cough for years, but it is not a severe issue. This past summer I spent two months on the East Coast and, except when I was in a home with five cats, I didn’t suffer. Once I returned home, where there is one cat, my symptoms started again.

Is it possible I have developed an allergy to cats? I am currently on a steroid (prednisone) for a leg rash and notice that the drip has practically gone away. – N.C.

ANSWER: People can develop an allergy at any age, and you couldn’t make a better case for cat allergy if you tried your hardest. You have symptoms when you’re around cats; you don’t have symptoms when you’re not. Prednisone, one of the most potent anti-inflammatory drugs, controls symptoms.

Protein in the cat’s saliva and cat’s skin cells is the allergen – the stuff that provokes an allergic reaction. Cats are always grooming themselves, so their bodies have lots of dried saliva on them. Skin cells with dried saliva are constantly shed and can be found throughout the house.

Understandably, people are loath to give up their pets. They can still reduce the amount of allergen in their homes. Bare floors are better for these people than carpeted floors. If getting rid of carpets is not possible, have carpets steam-cleaned frequently. Someone without a cat allergy should brush the cat weekly outdoors, and the same person can change the litter box. Furniture needs daily dusting and vacuuming. Keep the cat out of the bedroom at all times.

Consult an allergist. He or she can test you for cat allergy and might suggest desensitization.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I take Metamucil for constipation. I have had regular bowel movements since starting it. A few days ago, I had a sharp, intense pain during a bowel movement. Now every time I relieve myself, there is bright-red blood present. I don’t have any pain, but there is an enormous amount of blood there. Will this clear up on its own? – T.J.

ANSWER: Don’t take a chance on something like this clearing up by itself. The kind of bleeding you describe could well be due to something innocent, like hemorrhoids, but the cancer issue has to be investigated quickly. Metamucil is not responsible.

Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers. The booklet on it provides information about its detection and treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 505, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What is your opinion on “colon cleansing” products? Are they really necessary? – J.C.

I don’t believe in colon cleansing. Undigested food is not a poison. The colon was given innate mechanisms to protect itself.

There’s no need to use enemas or laxatives to keep the colon “clean.”

There are reasons for which enemas and laxatives are necessary, but cleaning the colon is not one of them.

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. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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