The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

September 4, 2013

Saliva lack can cause constipation

DEAR DR. ROACH: In 2003, I had surgery for throat cancer, followed by radiation treatments. I have been negative ever since. My salivary and thyroid glands were damaged. Does the thyroid gland control bowel movements? I’ve been constipated a lot. I’ve tried different laxatives without good results. — J.

ANSWER: Radiation therapy, though it can be lifesaving, often has side effects. In the case of head and neck cancers, you have had two common side effects: damage to salivary glands and to the thyroid gland. Both can affect bowel function.

There are three major salivary glands: the parotid (in the cheeks), the submandibular (under the jaw) and the sublingual (under the tongue). Low amounts of saliva can cause severe dental damage, but saliva is helpful in several other ways: Saliva has enzymes that help break down food, and the liquid swallowed helps the food move through the digestive tract. Without adequate saliva — whether it’s due to radiation treatment, medical conditions like Sjogren’s disease or a side effect from medication — constipation is more likely.

Low thyroid levels are a frequent cause of constipation, and radiation damage to the thyroid predisposes you not only to low thyroid levels but also to thyroid cancer, so your thyroid gland needs to be periodically examined. You should have a lab test to check your thyroid function.

Most constipation improves with increased dietary fiber and water.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I’m an 80-year-old woman with very few ailments. The only medication I take is for low thyroid. About two weeks ago, I woke up feeling tired, lightheaded and with a poor appetite. My granddaughter took me to my primary care doctor, who did a checkup, including a urine test. He told me that my symptoms were due to the “super moon.” It affects people in flat-roof dwellings, and he said my symptoms would last only three days.

Text Only
Food & Health
  • Watermelon Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

    Watermelon is one of those foods you really don’t need to overthink.
    Slice it. Eat it. Spit out the occasional seed. Done.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8M in refunds

    The federal government says insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs WASHINGTON (AP) — Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.The weak link seemed to be call cente

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Illinois patients to docs: 'What about marijuana?'

    Illinois doctors, nursing homes, hospitals and hospice organizations are ramping up for their role as gatekeepers in the state's new medical marijuana program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Amanda Stecker Herbs make a better way to flavor meals Summer is a season full of fresh herbs. This is the best time of year to take advantage of the fresh herbs in the grocery store. Herbs add a boost of flavor without added sodium and are rich in antioxidants. Herbs are easy to incorporate into everyda

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Genome Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.Such work could eventually point to new treatments, although they are many y

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014

  • Bice Nurses earn Daisy awards

    CLINTON — Two Clinton nurses recently earned Daisy awards.Mercy Medical Center nurses Jodie Atkinson and Kristen Bice earned the awards that is rewarded to extraordinary nurses. Atkinson began her career in nursing at Mercy Medical Center in 1995 on

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.