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home : columns : ask the doctors October 21, 2017

Melatonin and CoQ10 have been shown to prevent migraines

DEAR DOCTOR: I've suffered with migraines for years, and my doctor wants to give me a daily medication to prevent them. I'm reluctant to rely too heavily on drugs. Aren't there any vitamins or non-prescription medications I can take to prevent migraines? 

 

Friday, October 20, 2017


Anderson Jewelers

Sandboxes are breeding grounds for bacteria
DEAR DOCTOR: My sister-in-law read that sandboxes are full of germs, and now she won't let her kids play with my sons in our backyard. I can see how a public playground might be less than clean, but isn't she overreacting by putting my yard off-limits?
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Recent hepatitis a outbreak devastates city's homeless
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm familiar with hepatitis C's connection to death, but hepatitis A? I had no idea that could be lethal, and now I'm reading about a number of deaths in San Diego. I thought anyone could get hepatitis A. 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Treadmill desk can be good way to avoid sitting at work all day
DEAR DOCTOR: I graduated from college last spring, and I just got my first full-time job, which I love. But it means that I'm sitting for more than eight or nine hours a day, and I hate it. Would one of those treadmill desks be a good way to stay fit?
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Course of treatment varies for patients with thyroid cancer
DEAR DOCTOR: A recent study suggested that cancer for thyroid treatment can be delayed. What would be the point? 
Monday, October 16, 2017

Readers' advice on better balance and improved doctors' visits
Hello again, dear readers! Many of your medical questions tackle complex topics that don't fit into the allotted space in a newspaper, so we're back with your questions and comments. These regular follow-ups let us turn the one-way communication of a column into something far more satisfying: a conversation.
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Massage techniques can help alleviate swelling from lymphedema
DEAR DOCTOR: I have Stage 1 lymphedema in my left leg, which causes pain and swelling. I do self-massages every morning, but it's not enough. Can anything reverse this? I've heard that lymph node replacement hasn't been very successful.
Friday, October 13, 2017

Kids don't necessarily have to bathe every day
DEAR DOCTOR: My 10-year-old grandchild gets a bath only three times a week, and sometimes it's only twice a week. Is this normal? I thought that children should be bathed every day. 
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dietary changes don't show any effect on UTIs
DEAR DOCTOR: I have a lot of urinary tract infections. My doctor told me not to drink anything with caffeine, but surely there must be something else I can do. Are there foods I should eat? Not eat?
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The spread of Candida auris concerns health professionals
DEAR DOCTOR: First, there was a "superbug bacteria"; now there's a "superbug fungus"? What is this new fungus that I've been reading about? More to the point, how worried should I be? 
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Minimal data on the cardiovascular response to marijuana use
DEAR DOCTOR: Can marijuana use really increase the risk of high blood pressure, as a recent study suggests? I thought marijuana was supposed to make you relax. 
Monday, October 9, 2017

Symptoms of sundowning syndrome upsetting for caregivers
DEAR DOCTOR: My husband was in the hospital recently, and at night he would get quite agitated. He yelled, took off his clothes and tried to pull out his IV. He had to be secured to his bed to keep him from leaving. But in the morning, he'd be fine and couldn't remember anything from the night before. What's happening? How can I help? 
Saturday, October 7, 2017

Panic attacks can derail prospects for normal life
DEAR DOCTOR: Could you explain panic attacks? I never knew what people were talking about until a few months ago, while sitting at the computer. I felt as if I had stopped breathing; I thought I was dying. I ended up in the ER, but no problems were found. This has happened several times since, and I want my life back. 
Friday, October 6, 2017

Moderate your intake of pickled vegetables
DEAR DOCTOR: A lot of my friends are talking about pickles these days because they're a way to get probiotics into your diet. But I read that pickled foods are associated with higher rates of cancer. Are pickles good or bad for you? I'm confused. 
Thursday, October 5, 2017

Connection between aluminum and alzheimer's not known
DEAR DOCTOR: My husband and I have been reading about a possible connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease. Some reports even discourage the use of aluminum foil for cooking. Is there a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's? 
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

DEAR DOCTOR: What's the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? I'm really interested in how gut bacteria impact health, but I'm not sure I always understand the terminology.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Surgical procedure can lessen symptoms of neurological condition
DEAR DOCTOR: What can be done for normal pressure hydrocephalus? My dad was diagnosed with this condition six months ago after developing severe gait problems, urinary urgency and memory issues. He has a few other physical issues, but is otherwise healthy.  
Monday, October 2, 2017

Cancer treatments can have major effect on hair color
DEAR DOCTOR: Is it true that chemotherapy not only makes you lose your hair, but that it can also change the color and texture of hair that grows back, and even get rid of gray? 
Thursday, September 28, 2017

A range of exercises and medications can help with fibromyalgia
DEAR DOCTOR: My daughter, who is in her 40s, has fibromyalgia. Is there any cure for this painful condition, or any natural remedies? I hate to see her suffer. 
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cluster of symptoms necessitates further neurological testing
DEAR DOCTOR: I've been having trouble with my handwriting, not being able to control the letters. I have also had an occasional tremor in my little finger, and have an ongoing problem with a "frozen shoulder." Do you think a neurological evaluation would be appropriate?   
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Blood test for ovarian cancer not effective
DEAR DOCTOR: How effective is the CA 125 blood test at detecting ovarian cancer? Because ovarian cancer is diagnosed so late, wouldn't it make sense to screen women with this test at the same time they get their Pap smears?
Monday, September 25, 2017

Studies suggest moderate drinking lessens diabetes risk
DEAR DOCTOR: News coverage of a study recently suggested that frequent, moderate drinking could ward off Type 2 diabetes. Could this be true?  
Friday, September 22, 2017

Complete recovery from pneumonia typically takes time
DEAR DOCTOR: My husband was recently hospitalized for pneumonia "of undetermined origin" and treated with IV antibiotics. Does that mean they don't know whether it was viral or bacterial? Are antibiotics used for both? I'm also worried that he might have a relapse. 
Thursday, September 21, 2017

When to measure TSH to check for hypothyroidism
DEAR DOCTOR: My mother and father have hypothyroidism, as do my two younger sisters. Now I've been experiencing symptoms that would indicate thyroid problems. My doctor checked my T3 and TSH levels, but did not check T4, and said I did not need medication. Shouldn't she also have checked my T4? 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Random chance and lifestyle choices often to blame for cancer
DEAR DOCTOR: My best friend, who never smoked, died of lung cancer last spring. My father, who has been a smoker since high school, is fine. What puts you at greater risk of getting cancer -- your genes, your habits, the environment, or is it just random chance?
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More studies needed to assess vitamin k's effect on bone health

DEAR DOCTOR: My 83-year-old mother has advanced osteoporosis. She and I recently read several articles touting the benefits of vitamin K2. Does it help strengthen bones? If so, what is the recommended daily dose? Are there side effects? 

 

Monday, September 18, 2017

For certain shoulder injuries, a prp injection may benefit
DEAR DOCTOR: My doctor at the local bone and joint clinic said I was a good candidate for an experimental injection of PRP for arthritis in my right shoulder. What is your opinion? I'm 71.
Saturday, September 16, 2017

Service dogs can be trained to assist with a variety of tasks
DEAR DOCTOR: I've seen a lot of dogs recently in grocery stores and restaurants wearing those yellow service dog vests, but some of them can't obey even simple commands like "sit" and "stay." They seem to really be pets. What do trained service dogs do? Whom do they help? 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Overprescribing antibiotics leading to increased drug resistance
DEAR DOCTOR: Do you, or do you not, need to take a whole course of antibiotics even when you begin to feel better? I've always dutifully done so, but new reports seem to suggest otherwise. 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Readers offer feedback on recent columns
Hello again, dear readers. We hope you've been having an enjoyable summer and that our recent columns about sunscreen, ticks and mosquitos have come in handy. We've been hearing from a lot of you and, as always, you've given us great information to share, as well as a few things to clarify.  
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gentle exercise can help with recovery from back pain
DEAR DOCTOR: I have just been diagnosed with a herniated disc and pressure on the sciatic nerve in my lower spine. Currently, I participate in yoga, weights and machines at the gym, and I walk for most of my errands. Am I helping or hurting my recovery with these activities? 
Monday, September 11, 2017

Living healthy means eating well and eliminating stress
DEAR DOCTOR: I just read that stress can cancel out the health effects of eating "good" oils, like olive oil. If that's true, why should I even bother trying to eat better?  
Friday, September 8, 2017

Whether using filters or not, smoking is still harmful
DEAR DOCTOR: I smoked cigarettes for years, but I always used the filtered kind. (I've since stopped.) Now I'm hearing that people who smoke filtered cigarettes have increased rates of lung cancer compared to those who smoke unfiltered cigarettes. How can this be? 
Friday, September 8, 2017

Cross-contact during food preparation may trigger allergies
DEAR DOCTOR: My boyfriend wants to take me to his favorite Thai restaurant, but I'm a little worried; Thai cuisine uses a lot of peanuts and I'm allergic. For people with food allergies, how dangerous is it to eat meals made with equipment also used to cook allergen-containing foods?  
Thursday, September 7, 2017

No definitive answer as to whether organics are healthier foods
DEAR DOCTOR: Are organic foods better for you than ordinary foods? I say yes because there are no hormones or pesticides involved. My husband says that once you wash your produce carefully, the only difference between an organic peach and a regular one is the price tag.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fruit juice not a suitable drink for toddlers
DEAR DOCTOR: Just how bad is it to give kids fruit juice before they turn 1?
Monday, September 4, 2017

Recent study suggests running good for discs in the spine
DEAR DOCTOR: I just heard that instead of causing injuries, running may be good for your back. Is this true? If it is, I'm going to lace up my shoes and head back out to the trail!
Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lifestyle changes can help relieve urinary incontinence symptoms
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 58 years old and have begun leaking urine. Once it was while I was at exercise class and another time when I sneezed. I've never had children, so why is this happening? What can I do?
Friday, September 1, 2017

Digestive problems could be solved by 'addition diet'
DEAR DOCTOR: Are there foods and drinks that can help firm up loose stool, so that there isn't an occasional "surprise" when passing gas? Probiotics haven't helped, and multiple tests have proven negative for anything but chronic inflammation.
Thursday, August 31, 2017

Digestive problems could be solved by 'addition diet'
DEAR DOCTOR: Are there foods and drinks that can help firm up loose stool, so that there isn't an occasional "surprise" when passing gas? Probiotics haven't helped, and multiple tests have proven negative for anything but chronic inflammation.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Meditation might alleviate back pain for some
DEAR DOCTOR: I've had back pain since my 20s and have gotten to the point where I can't use aspirin or other pain relievers because they tear up my stomach. My sister-in-law wants me to try meditation, which sounds a little nutty. Do you think it can help?
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Flint crisis has homeowner worried about water supply
DEAR DOCTOR: Ever since the news about lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, I've wondered about the water in my own home. I live in Oklahoma, and our house was built in 1988. Should I be worried?
Monday, August 28, 2017

What to do when you experience sudden muscle cramps
DEAR DOCTOR: I love swimming and doing water exercises in the pool. The problem is that I tend to get painful cramps in my legs and feet. Is there anything I can do to avoid them? Does my age (I'm 69) have anything to do with this? 
Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dairy products appear to be linked to size differences in kids
DEAR DOCTOR: My family tries to limit dairy products; it just doesn't make sense to me that, marketing aside, humans should need milk from another species. But now I read that non-cow milk may be linked to shorter kids. Why would that be? 
Friday, August 25, 2017

When and how to take medication with food
DEAR DOCTOR: When a medication says "take with food," what exactly does that mean? If you take it with a few crackers, does that count? I have a medication I take before going to bed, when I don't feel like eating anything big! 
Thursday, August 24, 2017

Niece's death from Guillain-Barre Syndrome leaves many questions
DEAR DOCTOR: Could you explain Guillain-Barre syndrome? My 57-year-old niece died of it, but it's still a mystery to me.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis unique to individual patient
DEAR DOCTOR: We were shocked when our daughter, who is 26, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I thought arthritis was something that elderly people got. What treatments are available, and what are our daughter's prospects for an active and healthy life?
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Recent study suggests possible link between stroke and diet soda
DEAR DOCTOR: A recent news report said that diet sodas may be tied to stroke or dementia risk, but it didn’t provide a possible cause. What’s your take?  
Monday, August 21, 2017

Tips on soothing your teething baby
DEAR DOCTOR: My son has started teething, and I'd like to ease his discomfort. I see that several homeopathic teething products have been recalled. Could they really be dangerous? If so, what are my options?
Saturday, August 19, 2017

Treatment options for peripheral artery disease
DEAR DOCTOR: Could you please tell me about peripheral artery disease? I have it and recently underwent angiograms of both legs, including insertion of one stent. One leg is now normal, but the other is back to square one. Do I just suffer through the sleepless nights of pain while waiting for the inevitable stroke or heart attack?
Friday, August 18, 2017

Child looks for evidence to convince parents to get a pooch
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 12 years old, and I really want to get a dog. Can you help me find some studies to convince my mom and dad about the benefits of having a dog?
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cut down on french fry intake for better health
DEAR DOCTOR: French fries are absolutely one of my favorite foods, but because of their calorie content, I try to limit them to twice a week. Now I just read that eating them even that rarely is linked to a higher risk of death. Just how problematic are a couple of servings of fries each week?
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Headline-grabbing brain-eating amoeba exceedingly rare
DEAR DOCTOR: We live in Orlando, and last year a teenager here was infected with that brain-eating amoeba. Now we're reading that it's in the drinking water in Louisiana. How common is it? Should we be worried about an epidemic?
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stem cell therapy may yield positive results for worn-out knees
DEAR DOCTOR: I read that you can use your own stem cells to rejuvenate worn-out knees. Does this really work? 
Monday, August 14, 2017

Stem cell therapy may yield positive results for worn-out knees

DEAR DOCTOR: I read that you can use your own stem cells to rejuvenate worn-out knees. Does this really work? 

 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tips on getting through to your busy physician
DEAR DOCTOR: Is there anything I can do to keep my doctor from interrupting me? He's a really nice man, and I know he's busy, but I never get to share all of my concerns or have my questions answered before the visit is over. 
Saturday, August 12, 2017

How to treat myasthenia gravis
DEAR DOCTOR: I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2014 after years of trying to find an answer to my symptoms. The disease is so difficult to diagnose that I'm afraid others have been searching as well, but without answers. Could you shed some light on this disease? 
Friday, August 11, 2017

Yoga might help alleviate some lower back pain
DEAR DOCTOR: I've had lower back pain for years, but I can't afford to go to a physical therapist. My husband, who started taking a yoga class at the community center here a few months ago, swears that his back pain is going away. Just how effective is yoga for lower back pain?
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pulsating sounds in head may be pulsatile tinnitus
DEAR DOCTOR: A few months ago, I started to hear pulsating sounds in my head. I finally came to realize it was my blood pulsing. The sound is always there, but really only noticeable when I'm in bed or sitting quietly. Is it anything to worry about? Will it ever go away?
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lone star tick bite has been known to cause meat allergy in some
DEAR DOCTOR: What's the deal with the tick bite that makes you allergic to meat? Will I know if it happens to me?
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Less invasive procedures exist for enlarged prostate symptoms
DEAR DOCTOR: Is there any treatment besides surgery that can reliably help an older man urinate when he is experiencing difficulty due to prostate enlargement?
Monday, August 7, 2017

Tips on avoiding norovirus if someone close to you is sick
DEAR DOCTORS: Some schools in my district are facing an outbreak of norovirus like you wouldn't believe. Why is it spreading so fast? What can I do to protect our family? 
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Incidence of diverticulitis emblematic of unhealthy lifestyles
DEAR DOCTOR: I am recovering from a bout of diverticulitis. What are my chances of having another round -- and how can I avoid later episodes? Does the onset increase my risk of serious ailments such as cancer?
Friday, August 4, 2017

If you've been in contact with TB-infected person, get tested
DEAR DOCTOR: So many people are required to undergo tuberculosis screening even though they don't know anyone with TB and have no symptoms. Just how contagious is tuberculosis? 
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Oregano's effects on humans need to be studied more extensively
DEAR DOCTOR: What are the benefits of oregano oil?
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Crohn's disease can be a factor in b12 deficiency
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm living with Crohn's disease. Even though I feel fine, my wife is certain that it has caused me to be vitamin B12 deficient. If you could explain the signs of a B12 deficiency, it may put her mind at ease and get me off the hot seat.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eliminating trans fats decreases your chances of early death
DEAR DOCTOR: How bad are trans fats really? Seems hard to believe that simply banning them in restaurants could cut heart attacks and strokes, as a recent study suggests.
Monday, July 31, 2017

Treating bursitis pain requires patience
DEAR DOCTORS: What's the best way to treat bursitis? My son has it in his knee. I have it in my right shoulder. It's extremely painful for each of us. 
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rule out other reasons for loss of taste and smell
DEAR DOCTOR: After becoming ill with bronchitis a few months ago, I was told to take 100 milligrams of the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate twice a day. Since then, I've been unable to taste or smell anything. Is there anything I can do, or will my senses of smell and taste return on their own? 
Friday, July 28, 2017

Readers respond to recent column topics
Here we are again with a few letters from you, the readers. The ongoing dialogue you create is fascinating, informative and often inspiring. Your thank-you notes, in which you let us know that something we explained or suggested has helped you in some way, are especially gratifying. And quite often, the information you share about your own health care journeys is valuable enough to pass along.
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Colorectal cancers likely to rise with unhealthy behaviors
DEAR DOCTOR: Colorectal cancer is rising among young people, as I recently read in a news report. But why? I thought colorectal cancer required a lifespan of unhealthy behavior.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vestibular neuritis causes mild to severe dizziness
DEAR DOCTOR: A neurologist diagnosed me with vestibular neuritis after an "event" a year ago that put me in the hospital for a week. My MRI was unrevealing, but I am still unbalanced and find it hard to get around. Besides physical therapy, can anything else be done?
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Following a restricted diet will help prevent gout recurrence
DEAR DOCTOR: I've had gout three times in the last three years. I was prescribed Colcrys and indomethacin, but I'm finding confusing information about foods and beverages. One site told me to avoid potatoes and chicken. Other sites said I could drink wine. Any advice would be appreciated.
Monday, July 24, 2017












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