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home : columns : ask the doctors April 25, 2019

Circadian misalignment has many negative health effects
Hello dear readers, and welcome to our first letters column of spring. We hope you're enjoying the lengthening days and are recovering from the jolt of losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time. Speaking of which, we received mail regarding a recent column about the negative health effects of night shift work. T
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Activated charcoal is new entry in long list of fad diets
I read that New York recently banned something called activated charcoal from all food and beverages. What is that, and why on Earth would anyone ever want to ingest it?
Monday, April 22, 2019

Tetanus easily prevented with vaccine
DEAR DOCTOR: We're used to hearing about the measles outbreaks that happen in areas where parents have refused to let their kids get childhood vaccinations. Is it true that now a kid wound up with tetanus for the same reason? That sounds so dangerous.
Friday, April 19, 2019

Lysine can potentially help both types of herpes virus
Are cold sores and herpes the same thing? I've got both, and finding out there's no cure really stinks. My friends say lysine can help. Is that true?
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lugging heavy backpacks is bad for kids' health
Our sons are ages 9, 11 and 14, and like all of the other schoolkids we know, they're hauling around crazy-huge backpacks all day. What does that weight do to a child's back? Can carrying a heavy backpack every day cause scoliosis?
Monday, April 15, 2019

A stroke can happen at any age
I was a huge Luke Perry fan in high school, and like so many others, I was shocked that he had a stroke at just 52 years old. Isn't that awfully young? How do you know if you're having a stroke?
Friday, April 12, 2019

Stem cell therapies need more research
Stem cell therapies are being heavily marketed here in Florida as promising treatments for a variety of illnesses, but I have my doubts. As a retired doctor, I hate to see people go into debt to pay for something fraudulent or unsafe. Am I being too critical?
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Trusting your gut on gut health
I read with interest your column about how sugar likely affects the gut, and I now have questions concerning antibiotic treatment. Are all gut bacteria eliminated? Can they be restored? Do probiotic supplements help the gut return to normal? I thought the body produces its own.
Monday, April 8, 2019

New MuTaTo cancer treatment has potential to be a game-changer
Dear Doctor: What do you know about the new cancer treatment called MuTaTo? It is being reported as a cure for all cancers. Is it available here yet? Does it work?
Friday, April 5, 2019

SSPE onset can occur years after recovering from measles
I've heard there's a serious disease that can happen years after you recover from the measles. Is that true? I thought once the fever and rash are gone, then you're OK.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Genetics play a large role in under-eye circles
I'm a white man in my mid-40s, and I have significant dark areas under and around my eyes. I feel awkward inquiring about this, but people stare and judge, and I've become self-conscious. What is the cause? Can you offer any advice on how to lessen these dark areas?
Monday, April 1, 2019

Repeating resources for valsartan recall information
Hello dear readers, and welcome to another monthly letters column. We'd like to begin by revisiting a recent column about valsartan, a blood pressure medication that is the subject of a Food and Drug Administration recall. The recall is due to impurities found in certain lots of the drug. Since this was a selective recall associated with specific manufacturers only, we included websites where readers can check whether their own prescriptions are affected. Apparently, these sites didn't make it into every print edition of the column, so we're repeating the information here today. In the time since our column ran, the valsartan recall has spread to include additional manufacturers of the drug.
Friday, March 29, 2019

Recognizing the signs of prostate cancer
How does prostate cancer happen? And what are the symptoms? I'm only 43, but I worry that I wouldn't recognize the signs if I had it.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Earplugs grant better sleep, but are not without risks
I'm a 38-year-old man, and because I live in a loud environment, I've used soft foam earplugs at night for the past three years. Are they safe to wear for extended periods of time? I've lost half the hearing in my right ear and wonder if it could be from wearing earplugs for so long.
Monday, March 25, 2019

Frequently eating fast food is unhealthy
Dear Doctor: Unless I'm cooking, my boyfriend eats only junk food and fast food. He says it's no big deal because he's not overweight and doesn't have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Is he right?
Friday, March 22, 2019

Injuries on the rise as electric scooters become popular
Those electric scooters that you can rent by the hour have come to our city, and our son, who is almost 18, wants to start riding one to school. My husband thinks it's OK, but all I see are the different ways he can get hurt. Am I overreacting?
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Increasing exercise -- even in small ways -- is necessary
My kids say you're not supposed to admit it, but I hate to exercise. Running a mile once or twice a week is really the most I can manage. Should I even bother?
Monday, March 18, 2019

To help blood pressure, eat more potassium and less sodium
Dear Doctor: I heard that getting more potassium will help with high blood pressure. Is that really true? I love salty food, and I really don't want to give up my chips and popcorn.
Friday, March 15, 2019

Former heavy smoker worried about damage
I started smoking when I was 25 and stopped when I was 40. I'm 56 now, and because I was a heavy smoker, I'm really worried about the damage I may have done. Do you think I can get scanned just to be sure everything is OK? Would my insurance pay for it?
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Extreme allergic reaction not common, but still a concern
I saw on TV that someone who's allergic to fish actually died just from smelling it. Is that really possible?
Monday, March 11, 2019

Updated blood pressure guidelines affect millions of Americans
Dear Doctor: Help! I just saw on TV that half of all Americans now have heart disease. How did this happen? How do I know if I'm one of the 50 percent?
Friday, March 8, 2019

Study links fried foods to overall mortality
Our mom, who's running for president of the food police, just heard about a study that says any amount of fried food is basically death on a fork. Now my brothers and I are afraid we'll never see another french fry. Please. She's fallen for a conspiracy theory, right?
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Parents concerned that teen son may be using marijuana
We heard there's a new study that says cannabis changes a teenager's brain. My wife and I suspect that at least one of our 16-year-old son's friends is getting high, and we worry about our son as well. Why isn't there more research about the health effects of cannabis?
Monday, March 4, 2019

Be practical when tackling major lifestyle changes
After the new year, I started making some serious lifestyle changes, including losing weight and quitting smoking. It's not my first time around, so I hope you have advice to stay motivated. I really don't want to be making these same resolutions next year.
Friday, March 1, 2019

Mother-in-law's memory lapses worry family
My mother-in-law just turned 70. Physically, she's great, but when it comes to memory stuff, like remembering new names or shopping without a grocery list, she's not doing so hot. Do you have any mental tricks or exercises to help her? Her doctor says it's all normal and there's no sign of dementia, but my wife is still worried.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Study reveals appendix may play role in developing Parkinson's
Is it true that there's a link between the appendix and Parkinson's disease? I thought all an appendix ever does is burst sometimes. Does this mean we should get our appendixes removed, the way our parents used to get their tonsils taken out?
Monday, February 25, 2019

Instead of dieting to lose weight, focus on long-term health
Dear Doctor: Yes, it's totally predicable, but my New Year's resolution was to lose 15 pounds. I wanted to do the keto diet, but my friend (a physician assistant) said to concentrate on healthy eating instead. What do you think? Does it really have to be a choice between weight loss or wellness?
Friday, February 22, 2019

Readers comment about 'hanger' and question sugar's role in mood
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to our next installment of your letters! You've kept our inboxes full with questions, comments and even some compliments (thank you!), so let's dive in.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Most cases of Scoliosis have no root cause
Can you please explain scoliosis? My 11-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with it, and though it's mild, we're very worried. Why did she get it? Will she need surgery?
Monday, February 18, 2019

Minimize infection risk by not ingesting raw oysters
My wife and I love raw oysters. Whenever they're on the menu, we always order a dozen or even two. But I recently read that someone died from some kind of bacterial infection after eating them. Just how risky are they?
Friday, February 15, 2019

Study shows influenza linked to increased heart attack risk
Last year, my best friend, who was home in bed with a bad case of the flu, died of a heart attack. He was fit, strong and relatively young -- only 42 years old -- and his death was a shock. But now research suggests having the flu actually increases the risk of a heart attack. Can we protect ourselves?
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The best way to treat a toddler with the common cold
Our youngest daughter caught a cold over the holidays and was pretty miserable. She had just turned 2, so we didn't want to give her cough or cold medicines, but we did want to help her feel better. What could we have done? Would honey have helped?
Monday, February 11, 2019

Prescription drug Tianeptine can have addictive properties
Dear Doctor: What can you tell me about tianeptine, which a friend is buying online? All I know is that it's an antidepressant that people are taking instead of opioids.
Friday, February 8, 2019

Study reveals how sugars wipe out important bacteria in gut
My cousin says she heard that eating sugar pretty much wipes out the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Please tell me that's not true. I'm an avid baker and love sweets and don't think that I can give them up.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rare STD causes inflammation of urethra
My boyfriend and I were in London over the holidays, and we heard a lot about MG, a new sexually transmitted disease. Is it here in the United States too? Should I be worried?
Monday, February 4, 2019

Adequate amount of vitamin D is essential to good health
Why is it that vitamin D is so important? I know you can get it from food and supplements, but I'd like to get it the old-fashioned way -- from the sun. Is that too dangerous?
Friday, February 1, 2019

FDA recalls numerous blood pressure drugs
I've been taking a drug for blood pressure issues for a couple of years, but now I hear it's being recalled. What's the risk? Should I stop taking it?
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Man's rare infection caused by dog saliva
My wife read that a man had his legs amputated after he got an infection from being licked by his dog, and now she's freaking out. She's afraid to even touch our dog anymore, lest it somehow get saliva on her. Please talk some sense into her.
Monday, January 28, 2019

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