DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a very active 84-year-old. I eat properly, which includes a lot of fiber in my diet. My problem is the huge amount of gas I expel. Are any of the products in pharmacies worth trying? Can you offer any other solutions to this problem? – G.B.

ANSWER:
Flatulence – the expelling of gas – is a universal problem. It’s normal to pass gas 10 to 20 times a day. Some people become prodigious gas producers and pass gas so often they fear to leave their homes.

Intestinal gas comes mostly from colon bacteria. They feed on food remnants that we don’t digest, mostly carbohydrates. Gas is a byproduct of their metabolism of these foods.

First, cut back on the fiber you’re taking. If that leads to constipation, up the dose, but do so gradually.

I’ll give you a list of the foods most notorious for gas production. However, you should keep a food diary and see which foods cause you the greatest trouble. In top places for most people are beans, lentils and peas. Eliminate them for a full week and see what happens. If the air hasn’t cleared, then you can reintroduce them and go to the next three items. Give the items up for a week. Repeat the process until you’ve gone through all the listed foods. The list includes: dairy products, fatty foods, fried foods, high-fructose corn syrup (a sweetener in soft drinks and other products), carbonated beverages, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bananas, prunes and raisins. Don’t drink beer.

Eat and drink slowly. That way, food and drink get the maximum benefit from mouth processing of foods.

An hour after a meal, take a walk. Or, if you’re up to it, lie on your back on the floor, lift your legs and begin pedaling as though you were riding a bike. Exercise doesn’t stop gas production, but it gets food moving faster and it empties the tract of gas in places where no one else is around.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a bacterium found in most yogurts. It can displace some of the gas-producing bacteria in the colon. You can find it in grocery stores, or you can find the bacterium in tablets in health-food stores.

Beano, Gas-X, Phazyme and many other brands of gas retardants help some people. You have to experiment to see which, if any, works for you.

TO READERS: Many men and women ask about urinary-tract infections. The booklet on that topic discusses its causes and treatment in detail. To order a copy, write: Dr. Donohue – No. 1204, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Last week, there was a long article in a popular magazine about malaria, TB and AIDS. It was very sad. Why are we waiting for a vaccine for malaria? The article states that there are millions of men, women and children dying from it. During World War II, quinine and Atabrine were successfully used by the military for malaria. My husband had it. – H.H.

ANSWER: Doctors are working on a vaccine for malaria. A successful vaccine for prevention is hard to develop. Malaria is caused by an organism that is much larger and infinitely more complicated than a bacterium or virus. That’s one of the biggest obstacles to successful vaccine development.

The drugs you mention that were useful in World War II have lost their usefulness because the malaria parasite has become immune to them. New drugs are effective. The problem is that they are expensive. Simple measures like sleeping under a mosquito net can prevent infection. Generous benefactors like Bill Gates have donated billions of dollars to programs for the development of vaccines and for the prevention of malaria spread.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I take Uniretic for high blood pressure. I read that you should not take it if you are taking aspirin, which I also take. Why? – D.N.

ANSWER:
Uniretic is a combination of the ACE inhibitor moexipril and the diuretic (water pill) hydrochlorothiazide. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can blunt ACE inhibitors’ action. If your blood pressure is controlled, you can continue to take the aspirin.

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 www.rbmamall.com.


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