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home : columns : ask the doctors March 26, 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

Readers check in with questions about vaccines and cookie dough
Hello again, dear readers! We hope that amid the rush (and, let's face it, occasional stress) of the holidays, you were able to enjoy the season. We thank you for making the time to keep our mailboxes full. We will get right down to business.
Friday, January 25, 2019

Study suggests full-fat milk may not be bad for your heart
I just read that full-fat milk isn't actually bad for you, and that it may even reduce the risk of stroke. That's just so different from what we've been taught. What's the deal?
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Parents concerned about pregnant daughter's possible depression
My daughter is 16 weeks pregnant with her second child. Her father and I can tell that she's really feeling down, even though she's been trying to hide it. I thought that women get the baby blues after giving birth, not during pregnancy. Is there anything I can do to help her?
Monday, January 21, 2019

Woman's blood pressure drops significantly after meals
I am an 86-year-old female, and sometimes, about an hour after eating a meal, my blood pressure drops significantly, from a normal of 123/74 to as low as 93/47. When it happens, my lips tingle and get dry, and I feel "zonked" out, like I'm in some kind of a trance. What causes this? What can I do?
Friday, January 18, 2019

Oral immunotherapy shows promise in treating peanut allergies
My 5-year-old nephew has a severe peanut allergy. It's so bad that he can't risk eating anything that isn't prepared by the family. Even the highly supervised snack time at school isn't safe. Now I've read about a new peanut allergy drug that is an oral immunotherapy. How does it work? Do you think it could help him?
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Runner's Asthma triggered by noticeable exertion
I've noticed that after running, especially when I've really pushed myself, I'll cough for a while. A friend says it's something called exercise-induced asthma. Why is it happening?
Monday, January 14, 2019

E. Coli outbreaks can be caused by contaminated irrigation water
Dear Doctor: It seems like every time we turn on the TV there's another recall of romaine lettuce because of another outbreak of E. coli. What's the deal? How dangerous is it if I get infected?
Friday, January 11, 2019

Study reveals possible link between herpes virus and Alzheimer's
Pretty much everyone I know gets cold sores from time to time. Now I see a study saying that cold sores are somehow connected to Alzheimer's. Can you explain?
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Chickenpox can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems
I recently read that more than 30 students at a school in North Carolina all got chickenpox during an outbreak. Growing up, I got chickenpox, too, before there was a vaccine. Is the vaccine really that necessary for kids? Like I said, I got chickenpox as a kid and turned out fine!
Monday, January 7, 2019

Woman's cancer accidentally discovered on television show
I read that a doctor knew that a woman had thyroid cancer just by seeing her neck on TV. Why was a visual diagnosis so easy? What happens next?
Friday, January 4, 2019

Rising rates of STDs among young people cause for concern
My son and daughter are now 17 and 19, and my sister, who worries about everything, keeps telling me that STDs in teens are on the rise. Is this really true? If so, is there anything I can say to my kids? You know how teens are; will they even listen?
Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tracking blood sugar not necessary for non-diabetics
DEAR DOCTOR: My family has a history of diabetes, and although I'm currently healthy (I exercise regularly and am careful about what I eat), I'm still curious about my blood sugar. Do you think it could be helpful to track it as a diabetic would, just so that I know how I'm doing?
Monday, December 31, 2018

Body mass index readings can be misleading for athletes, others
Dear Doctor: I'm not thin by any means, but I'm not obese either. I lift weights three to four times a week, run about 10 miles a week, play soccer and regularly do half-marathons. Now a new study says that because my BMI is 26, there's no way I can be fit and healthy. Is this true?
Friday, December 28, 2018

Restrictive eating plan based on when you eat
Dear Doctor: I want to lose 15 pounds but have had no luck cutting calories or carbs, or even trying that crazy (IMHO) keto diet where you eat mostly fat. What about that new diet where you only eat during certain hours? How does it work?
Wednesday, December 26, 2018









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