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home : columns : ask the doctors February 22, 2020

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare, painful autoimmune disease
Dear Doctor: My brother-in-law thought he had the flu, but it turned out to be Guillain-Barre syndrome. He's now in his fifth month of an intense recovery. What can you tell me about the disease?
Friday, February 21, 2020


Running is a great way to keep active as you age
I was a runner in college, but I stopped running after marriage and kids and work. I'm 62 now, and everyone says that if I resume running I'll get hurt because I'm too old. What do you think?
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Masks not very effective at preventing viruses
I work in an open-plan office, and people aren't good about staying home when they're sick. Would wearing a surgical mask help keep me from catching someone's cold or flu?
Monday, February 17, 2020

Keto diet restricts carbohydrate intake to spur weight loss
Can you please explain the keto diet? A bunch of my friends are on it, but it seems like they're all doing it a different way.
Friday, February 14, 2020

NPs and PAs make a difference in rural communities
Hello, dear readers, and (yes, it's mid-February) happy 2020. We hope the new year is treating you well. You've filled our mailbox with some very interesting questions and quandaries, including how to follow through on New Year's resolutions. We look forward to tackling that topic -- and many more of your questions -- in the coming months. Meanwhile, onward to your most recent thoughts, tips and suggestions.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sitting still for too long could cause deep vein thrombosis
Is it really that important to walk around during a long flight? I always take a window seat when I fly, and I pretty much stay put because it's so hard to move around in a plane these days.
Monday, February 10, 2020

No need to use rubbing alcohol on cuts
Dear Doctor: I was helping with Thanksgiving dinner when the paring knife slipped and sliced my finger. My aunt said to clean the cut with rubbing alcohol, which we didn't have. I've always heard you're supposed hold it under running water. How do you fix a cut?
Friday, February 7, 2020

B12 vitamin vital to the body
I'm 19 years old, and I switched to a vegan diet six months ago. I'm careful about getting enough vitamin B12. However, some of my girlfriends say it's not that important and your body makes all the B12 you need. Is that true?
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Easy treatments for bumpy skin
Every winter I get these weird bumps on my skin, kind of like goosebumps, except that they won't go away. What are they? Is there anything that can help?
Friday, January 31, 2020

Fragrances trigger adverse reactions in many people
I am bothered by certain scents, especially from candles. What causes it? And other than moving away from the source, is there anything I can do to combat this problem?
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

It's vital to limit screen time for kids
My husband and I are pretty strict about screen time with our kids. I read about a new study that indicates that screen time actually changes a child's brain. Is this true? How much screen time is OK?
Monday, January 27, 2020

Hearing aid use can reduce risk of cognitive decline
Dear Doctor: Our grandfather won't use his hearing aid because he doesn't like how it makes things sound. However, I recently read that using a hearing aid reduces the risk of dementia. How can we get him to use one?
Friday, January 24, 2020

Cold and flu both viruses and can't be treated with antibiotics
What's the difference between a cold and the flu, and how do you know which one you've got? Why can't antibiotics help?
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by lifestyle changes
After knitting, I sometimes get tingles in my right hand, and my doctor thinks it might be the start of carpal tunnel syndrome. What can I do to prevent it?
Monday, January 20, 2020

New research indicates paleo diet isn't good for your heart
I've been doing paleo for a month, and I have lost 12 pounds. Now my mom is talking about a new study that says the diet is not good for your heart. Can you explain? Do you think it's the same for keto?
Friday, January 17, 2020

Popcorn lung, cobalt lung linked to vaping
Our family is worried; my 18-year-old grandson won't give up vaping. How many people have gotten sick? We just read about something called popcorn lung. What is that?
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Holistic practices can make big differences
Hello, dear readers! We hope this new year is finding you happy and healthy, and that the expectations of the holiday season didn't take their toll. Whether it's a moment of meditation, a quiet cup of tea, or a romp with the family dog, always remember to take some time for yourselves. And now, onward to your letters.
Monday, January 13, 2020

Owning a dog is good for your health
Dear Doctor: I just heard about a study that says if you own a dog, you'll do better after having a heart attack. Is that real, or is it an urban legend?
Friday, January 10, 2020

Cycling offers many benefits with low impact
My company provides perks for involvement in its wellness program, and I've decided to start biking the 4 miles (with a few hills!) to work. Do you think it's a good choice? Any advice for getting started?
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Most anal cancer linked to HPV
I'm old enough to remember the shock over actress Farrah Fawcett's anal cancer diagnosis, which was not a disease you heard much about. Now I'm reading that this type of cancer is relatively common. Isn't there some kind of screening test?
Monday, January 6, 2020

Bone density test helpful in diagnosing Osteoporosis
I just turned 65, and my doctor wants me to have a bone density test. What is it, and how does it work?
Friday, January 3, 2020

Study could impact treatment for coronary artery disease
I keep reading about stents, and how it turns out they're no better for blocked arteries than heart meds. How does something like that get decided?
Monday, December 30, 2019

Special flu shot for older people has more antigen
DEAR DOCTOR: Our 76-year-old mom is nervous about getting the special Fluzone shot for older people because a neighbor told her it will make her sick. Is that true? What makes flu shots so important?
Friday, December 27, 2019

'Tis the season to be safe
Dear Doctor: It's our turn to host our extended family for the holidays. That means my husband and I will have adults, toddlers, teens, babies and a few senior citizens here at the house for at least four days. What should we do to keep everyone safe?
Monday, December 23, 2019

Give yourself help in staying healthy -- get a flu shot
Hello dear readers and welcome to the it's-almost-winter edition of our monthly letters column. The weather has changed, and so have your concerns, moving from the ticks and mosquitoes of summer, to colds and the dreaded flu.
Friday, December 20, 2019

Not all tremors point to Parkinson's disease
My wife does calligraphy, but she's having trouble because her hands have started shaking. She's worried it's Parkinson's disease. What else could be the cause?
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

New drug offers hope in Ebola-prone locations
Our son's work as an engineer is taking him to Kampala, Uganda. He's had to get all sorts of vaccinations, but his mother is concerned that Ebola wasn't on the list. Is there a vaccine yet?
Monday, December 16, 2019

FTD most common form of dementia for those under 60
Dear Doctor: Can you talk about FTD dementia, especially the type that affects behavior? I am sure that a close acquaintance has it, although she is clear-minded. Her symptoms involve increasingly strange behavior and, lately, social withdrawal.
Friday, December 13, 2019

Dysphagia most common in older adults
Why do the elderly often have a hard time swallowing, and sometimes experience a feeling that food is stuck in their throats? I heard there's a procedure to stretch the throat. Does it help?
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Having a Morton's neuroma is a pain in the foot
I have Morton's neuroma in both feet, and my podiatrist has recommended surgery. I really don't want to have surgery, so I am desperately looking for another remedy. I read about a drug that was being fast-tracked by the FDA. Has it been approved yet?
Monday, December 9, 2019

Bell's palsy shares symptoms with having a stroke
Our dad's left eye and the side of his face started to droop suddenly, and it seemed like he'd had a stroke. The doctor says it's actually Bell's palsy. What is that?
Friday, December 6, 2019

Memory-boosting pills have no real benefit
What's with all the ads for brain-enhancing products? Prevagen is one that claims it's been clinically proven to help, but my family doctor says that it hasn't. Who's right? Do these products actually help with memory issues?
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Age-related lung changes affect their function
I just turned 55 and have noticed that I get winded faster these days when I go running. Does getting older affect how much air your lungs can hold? Is there any way to increase it?
Monday, December 2, 2019

Halitosis and metallic taste in mouth are common, usually benign
Dear Doctor: My husband has had very bad breath for several months, and lately he says he has a metallic taste in his mouth. Can you tell us what might be the cause?
Friday, November 29, 2019

New drug treatment brings hope for those with cystic fibrosis
Our godson has cystic fibrosis, and seeing him struggle these past eight years has been hard. Is the new drug Trikafta we've been reading about really as good as people are saying?
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Arthritis pain may be relieved by prolotherapy
I'm a 66-year-old man whose right knee really hurts from arthritis. My sister keeps talking about something called prolotherapy. What is it, and can it help?
Monday, November 25, 2019









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