QUESTION: I have varicose veins and have had them since I was 18. I am now 32. Seven months ago, I delivered my second child. The vein is in the calves and there is intense itching, lots of heat and lots of throbbing pain. While I was pregnant, the doctor said not much could be done. Do I need a second opinion? - T.C.
DEAR READER: You need an updated opinion. Lots can be done.When varicose veins are not causing any trouble, you need do no more than wear support hose, stay off your feet as much as possible and practice leg elevation. Hose that reach up to the groin are the most effective to control the veins.
When veins behave as badly as yours do, it is time to think of ways to eliminate them from the scene altogether. Injections of chemicals can be used to harden and disintegrate them, or conventional surgery can be done. Your doctor can give you the name of a vascular surgeon, a specialist in such problems. See the varicose veins material for a rundown on control. Write Dr. Donohue/No.34, Box 830, Gibbstown, NJ 08027-9909, enclosing a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope and $2.
QUESTION: Please discuss ovarian cysts. Can they be left alone? And what if one ruptures? - K.B.
ANSWER: I'll discuss two prominent cyst types.
A woman's ovaries have a very large number of follicles, each a nest for a potential ovum or egg each month. If an egg develops during a monthly cycle and fails to release on its own, it remains and becomes distended, connected to a straw-colored stringy substance. This follicle cyst is not painful. In time it shrivels up and is gone.
The second common type is corpus luteum cyst, again involving the follicles. Normally after ovulation, the active follicle collapses and forms a tiny scar. However, if the follicle does not collapse after ovulation, it can remain and enlarge. Blood vessels may break and bleed into it. Or it can twist around on its appendage. These are pain-producing cysts, yet in time even these usually subside. If a corpus luteum cyst ruptures, that too may cause pain, but the contents of it are then removed by the body's scavenger cells.
Knotty questions arise over when to wait and watch an ovarian cyst. If ultrasound indicates cyst presence, then often the doctor asks for a re-examination in six weeks. By then, most cysts have disappeared. If not, further tests are in order, even perhaps a direct look at the ovaries.
QUESTION: I am an older male. My urologist said my prostate was enlarged, so advised transurethral prostatectomy. It was performed a year ago. Since then, I have been unable to ejaculate. I never had such a problem before the operation. I am worried sick about this. P.S. No cancer was found - A.K.
DEAR READER: I assume you mean that you have no visible ejaculation, that the semen does not exit through its normal passage in the urethra. That is to be expected after transurethral prostate surgery. Semen is diverted into the urinary bladder. That should not diminish sexual feelings of intercourse. I'm glad no cancer was found. Cancer is not the only reason for prostate gland removal. An enlarged gland can be removed to relieve urination difficulty, for example.
QUESTION: My daughter is 16. For the last year and a half she has had swelling in her hands and feet. The swelling lasts about a week and then goes down. The swelling seems to come on every six months. She has no allergies we know of and no other health problems. She was tested negative for arthritis. The last time, she had swelling in the face and knees as well. Please help. - B.F.
ANSWER: I wonder if you've taken this girl to an allergist. I doubt it. This recurrent swelling sounds a lot like angioedema, a kind of under-the-skin hives for which there are many causes, allergies leading the list.
I'd consider getting her to an allergist. Then be prepared to get an appointment the very next time she has a swelling episode. Spontaneous swelling is not to be taken lightly, since some people may have it in vital breathing areas.
1990 North America Syndicate Inc.