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home : columns : ask the doctors August 18, 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


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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

Try some of these balancing exercises to steady yourself
DEAR READERS: In our previous column, we talked a bit about balance and asked you to stand on one foot. How did it go? 
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Balance exercises can help you stay on your feet longer
DEAR DOCTOR: Your recent column about balance was very useful. My dad is in his late 70s, and I want to help him stay on his feet. Are there specific techniques or exercises that he can do? It would be great if we could do them together.
Friday, July 21, 2017

With quick diagnosis, rat bite fever can be cured
DEAR DOCTOR: What is rat bite fever? Just how contagious or dangerous is it? I read that a 10-year-old boy died from it after being bitten by his pet rat.
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tips on avoiding ticks during your next hike
DEAR DOCTOR: I've been reading a lot of warnings about the recent wet weather causing an abundance of ticks and their potential to cause disease. I knew about Lyme disease, but now Powassan virus? What's that? And just how dangerous are ticks? 
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Eye floaters can usually be ignored
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

'Digital free-for-all' not the answer for young kids
Monday, July 17, 2017

Adult-onset allergies are not that unusual
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 44 years old and have never had hay fever in my life. This spring, just as everything was turning green and the flowers were blooming, my eyes started to itch, my nose was running, and I was sneezing all the time. I know I didn't have a cold. Is it possible that I've developed an allergy? 
Saturday, July 15, 2017

When gallbladder removal may be preferable to medications
DEAR DOCTOR: How necessary is the gallbladder? I recently had two flare-ups of what turned out to be gallbladder attacks. My doctor said that if I have another attack, he would recommend removal of the gallbladder. But don't I need it? 
Friday, July 14, 2017

Breakout of rat lungworm has family anxious about vacation
DEAR DOCTOR: My family is planning a trip to Hawaii in a few months, and we've been hearing about a condition called rat lungworm disease. What is it? And is there anything we can do to prevent infection?
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Polyneuropathy can be caused by a host of diseases or behaviors

DEAR DOCTOR: I recently had an annual physical and everything seemed normal. But the bottoms of my feet feel as if they're on fire. What could be the cause? And what can I do? 

 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Children younger than 12 should not be given codeine or tramadol
DEAR DOCTOR: The Food and Drug Administration recently said parents shouldn't give their kids medicine with codeine or tramadol. Just how dangerous are these drugs? And what should parents use instead?
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When consuming caffeine, err on the side of moderation
DEAR DOCTOR: My teenager drinks a lot -- I mean, a LOT -- of soda and energy drinks. But I recently read that a teenager died after only three caffeinated drinks. How can this be? How much is too much?
Monday, July 10, 2017

Global rise of yellow fever necessitates vaccine increase
DEAR DOCTOR: I read that hospitals in the United States might run out of yellow fever vaccine soon. I'm a natural worrier, but I can't help wondering if yellow fever really is an issue in this country.
Saturday, July 8, 2017

Plan b may not be as effective as other forms of birth control
DEAR DOCTOR: My granddaughter's college offers "morning-after" pills via vending machine. Using these pills without a doctor's prescription and oversight can't possibly be safe, can it?
Friday, July 7, 2017

How to protect your eyes during the upcoming solar eclipse
DEAR DOCTOR: What kind of eye protection should be worn during a solar eclipse? I live in a part of Nebraska where the upcoming eclipse on Aug. 21 will be total. 
Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reader asks if there is link between cancer and deodorants
DEAR DOCTOR: I know that doctors say there's no connection between breast cancer and deodorants/antiperspirants. But has this ever been tested?
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Whole-grain products are better for you than refined foods
DEAR DOCTOR: I just heard about a new study saying that whole grains can rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight. Do we need to add tons of whole grains to our diets now?
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Comparing younger doctors with older practitioners
DEAR DOCTOR: I recently read that patients of younger doctors have a lower risk of death than patients of older doctors. How could this be? Don't older doctors have more experience? 
Monday, July 3, 2017

Limit screen time and caffeine when trying to get to sleep
DEAR DOCTOR: I've always been a sound sleeper, but in the last few months, I'm tossing and turning way into the night. I really don't want to start take sleeping pills. Is there anything I can do? 
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dietary supplements can help reduce the risk of AMD
DEAR DOCTOR: Can lutein really help prevent, or treat, macular degeneration?
Friday, June 30, 2017

Screening guidelines for disease change with research findings
DEAR DOCTOR: I have read that screening guidelines for prostate cancer are changing again. Why does this keep happening, and why should I believe the latest guidelines if they're just going to be rewritten in a couple of years?
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Aspirin may help reduce risk of specific cancers
DEAR DOCTOR: Every now and then, I'll see a news story about the benefits of daily aspirin. A recent story linked it to a lower risk of cancer. What gives? Just how healthy is aspirin? 
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When buying sunscreen, look for brands labeled 'broad spectrum'
DEAR DOCTOR: I want to be better about protecting my skin from the sun, but the sunscreen aisle of our drug store is so confusing. Are all sunscreens the same and are they equally effective?
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Antipsychotics' side effects can distress dementia patients
DEAR DOCTOR: My mother is suffering from dementia and is increasingly difficult, but I'd hate for her to be given antipsychotics. Isn't there anything else that could be done to keep her calm? 
Monday, June 26, 2017

Patients with congestive heart failure must be mindful of meds
DEAR DOCTOR: My 80-year-old mother has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. What is it, and is there anything she can do to keep it from getting worse?
Saturday, June 24, 2017

Acupuncture is an option for carpal tunnel treatment
DEAR DOCTOR: Could acupuncture help my carpel tunnel syndrome? 
Friday, June 23, 2017

Antibacterial products offer no resistance to viruses
DEAR DOCTOR: Can you settle an argument in our family? Ever since the Ebola virus hit the news, my aunt has been using antibacterial products for everything. She even had the kitchen walls coated with antibacterial paint! But from what we're learning in biology, that's not going to help against a virus. Who's right?
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Surgery not always necessary for hyperparathyroidism
DEAR DOCTOR: When does a person require parathyroid surgery? I've heard it discussed, but don't know much about it.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gut bacteria believed to affect numerous aspects of health
DEAR DOCTOR: I can't seem to lose weight and am wondering if my gut bacteria could be to blame. How can I change it?
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Turmeric supplements shown to have some benefit in studies
Monday, June 19, 2017

High-intensity workouts can boost cellular function

Dear Doctor: What's the best type of exercise? I've been reading that high-intensity interval training can slow down the aging process. Is this really true? I'm not too keen on this approach, but I do walk at least a mile every day.

 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Probiotics may help alleviate some patients' intestinal problems
DEAR DOCTOR: Doctor: Can you explain probiotics? Who should take them, and are they harmful in any way? They seem helpful to me in calming my stomach. 
Friday, June 16, 2017

Some tips on getting the most out of doctor's appointments
DEAR DOCTOR: How do I get the most out of my relationship with my primary care physician? The appointments are so short these days, and I want to be smart about the way I use the time.
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bone-building medications' benefits seem to outweigh risks
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 71, and after a recent bone scan, my doctors are insisting I take a bone-building medication. I couldn't tolerate Fosamax, so they want me to take Prolia. I'm worried about it, but my mother had severe osteoporosis, so I'm worried about that too. How can I choose what to do?
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Some women 65 and older can stop having pap smears
DEAR DOCTOR: What are the updated guidelines for cervical cancer screening? I'm 62 and want to know what is recommended going forward. Is an annual pelvic exam still necessary if a Pap smear isn't being done? And have guidelines changed for teens and 20-somethings?
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Organic compound MSM could help with arthritis pain
DEAR DOCTOR: A friend suggested I try MSM crystals for arthritis. What are they, and do they work? If they do, where can I find them?
Monday, June 12, 2017

Nutritional factors to consider when trying to gain weight
DEAR DOCTOR: So many articles seem to be about weight loss, but I'm actually underweight. I eat enough, live a healthy lifestyle and exercise. But I'm 5 feet 1 inch tall and weigh 100 pounds. The charts say I need to gain about 12 pounds to be normal. How can I gain weight?
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Doctor's insensitivity causes patient distress
Dear Doctor: My doctor recently made such an insensitive remark to me about my dog's death that I still haven't gotten over it. This is the clinic most accessible to me, and it won't let me change doctors. Do I even bother to bring this up at my next appointment, or just try to forget about it?
Friday, June 9, 2017

Osteoporosis diagnosis not uncommon in older men
DEAR DOCTOR: I am a 74-year-old man and have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Is this common in men? I thought this was a disease that women get. What will the treatment be? Will it help? 
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Meningiomas often not a cause for concern
DEAR DOCTOR: I've recently been diagnosed with meningioma, but my doctor tells me not to worry about it. That can't be right. What should I know?
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tips on keeping athlete's foot from spreading
DEAR DOCTOR: My husband and two sons all have athlete's foot, and my daughter and I don't want to catch it. Now that it's in the house, can we get rid of it? 
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Surgery might be best option for Zenker's diverticulum
DEAR DOCTOR: I have a Zenker's diverticulum that, after 10 years, seems to be very large, judging by the volume it holds. At virtually every meal, I choke on food clogged in my esophagus, then I aspirate, then I cough for 10 minutes. Are my aspiration-related pneumonia risks high enough to warrant surgery?
Monday, June 5, 2017

Pregnant woman must quit smoking for the health of her baby
DEAR DOCTOR: Our daughter-in-law is four months pregnant with our first grandchild. When she and our son were recently visiting for the weekend, we became aware that she's secretly smoking. She says it's OK because it's just three cigarettes a day and asked us not to tell our son. Is she correct? Two future grandparents are very worried. 
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hoarders often find cognitive behavioral therapy beneficial
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm a 77-year-old woman, and I'm a hoarder. Well, maybe I'm a hoarder. Or maybe I'm just lazy or even a procrastinator. Regardless, how can I get myself in gear? 
Friday, June 2, 2017

Patient with rare disease struggles to find help
DEAR DOCTOR: I was having trouble with muscle spasms in my legs that made it hard to walk and have now been diagnosed with hereditary spastic paraplegia. The doctors in my area don't seem to know anything about it. What can you tell me about this disease? Where do I go for help?
Thursday, June 1, 2017

More studies are needed on the efficacy of paractin
DEAR DOCTOR: I've heard that a product called paractin, a plant extract, promotes a healthy inflammatory response. Is this true? How does it work?
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Research continues on psilocybin's effects on anxiety disorders
DEAR DOCTOR: I see that psilocybin mushrooms -- what we used to call magic mushrooms -- are being studied now as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. I've struggled with severe depression my whole life. Would it be risky for me to give magic mushrooms a try? 
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Long-term antibiotic use may lead to colon polyps
DEAR DOCTOR: A new study said that prolonged antibiotic use is tied to colon polyps. But "prolonged" meant "two weeks or more." I had a couple of bacterial infections in a six-month timespan. How worried should I be?
Monday, May 29, 2017

Teen's love of animals compels her to consider vegetarianism
DEAR DOCTOR: I've always loved animals, and now I want to stop eating meat. But I'm 15 years old, and my parents think that's too young to make such a big decision. What can I tell them about being a vegetarian? I'm hoping I can persuade them.
Saturday, May 27, 2017

Aging skin loses elasticity and bruises more easily
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 75 years old and have bruising on my hands, seemingly when anything touches them. I do not take blood thinners or aspirin. Occasionally I take an Aleve, which seems to make it worse.
Friday, May 26, 2017

Reader feedback sparks further discussion on health topics
DEAR READERS: We've been reading your letters. Thank you for your interest in our thoughts, the humor with which you evaluate -- and sometimes chide -- us, and the passion you continue to show for health sciences and research. Your thoughts and questions are always interesting, often touching and never fail to make us think. 
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kava's risks outweigh any potential benefits
DEAR DOCTOR: What are the benefits and risks of taking kava?
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The perceived benefits of cold water swimming
DEAR DOCTOR: Our family visits a lake in the mountains every summer where the water almost never gets above 60 degrees. I dislike swimming in cold water, but my husband and dad insist that it's good for you. It won't get me into the water, but I just want to know -- are they right? 
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Factors to consider before getting treated with PPIS
DEAR DOCTOR: Because of the potential risks of proton pump inhibitors, should I have an H. pylori breath or stool test to make sure I have this bacterium before committing to long-term treatment with a PPI?
Monday, May 22, 2017











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