QUESTION: I have developed a ventral hernia. My doctor says I got active too soon after I had abdominal surgery. But he also says it can happen to those who are relatively quiet. Would wearing a firm abdominal binder help, or should I have surgery to repair the hernia? Apparently, there are two schools of thought about binders. Would you comment, please? - M.R.L.
ANSWER: You can get a pretty fair idea of what a hernia is by visualizing a bicycle tire that is badly weakened at one point of its surface. Soon, the inner tube will bulge through that weak point - a herniation.A ventral hernia is such a bulge that develops at some point in the abdominal wall, permitting the inner lining to press through. The name of the hernia depends on where it occurs. The groin is a common site. Yes, a scar from prior surgery can be a hernia site.
Wearing a binder won't help. Certainly, it is no permanent solution. Corrective surgery is. Otherwise, the goal is to permit such scarred area to become as firm as possible. That takes time.
Don't blame yourself for developing the hernia in the first place. That can happen no matter how scrupulous the patient is following such surgery.
QUESTION: Please explain a trichomoniasis infection. Is it a hormone imbalance, or is it a sexually transmitted disease? - C.D.
ANSWER: Trichomoniasis is a vaginal infection with the Trichomonas germ. It is very common in females, with itching and discharge the chief signs.
It can be sexually transmitted by either partner. In fact, the male can harbor the germ and have no warning symptoms.
Metronidazole in oral form is the treatment of choice. It is best that both partners be treated simultaneously when either is infected.
See my vaginitis report for further details. Readers can order it by writing: Dr. Donohue - No. 33, P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077. Enclose a long, self-addressed, stamped (52 cents) envelope and $3.
QUESTION: I am in need of surgery but am afraid the medicine given for pain afterward would put me back into the drug scene. I have been clean for two years. Are there pain-killing drugs that would be non-addicting? I have written before but have not seen a reply as yet. Maybe you don't think it important, but to people like me it is. - C.H.
ANSWER: I think your fears are pretty groundless, C.H. You don't have to worry about getting hooked again during the short-term use of a narcotic given postoperatively.
Often, non-narcotic analgesics suffice to get the patient over postoperative pain. In today's advanced field of surgery, you might be surprised at just how little pain there is from most surgical procedures.
Selecting letters for response is often a matter of balancing reader needs and space limitations. Eventually, if you read long enough, your concern will be addressed.
In response to reader requests, Dr. Donohue now has a complete listing of his pamphlets on various medical problems. Readers who want the list should send their request to Dr. Donohue - List, P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
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 at P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077.