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home : columns : ask the doctors September 22, 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

Anderson Jewelers

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

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

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