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home : columns : ask the doctors July 16, 2019

Lichen planus causes pain and itching on skin, scalp and more
Recently, my skin became irritated and started blistering. I was diagnosed with lichen planus, which I'm told is pretty common. What is it? How can people deal with the irritation and itchiness it causes?
Monday, July 15, 2019

Your clean house could be hurting your lungs
Dear Doctor: How bad are cleaning products for our lungs? My mom keeps talking about a news story that said chemicals in cleaning products are as dangerous as cigarettes. Is my clean kitchen killing me?
Friday, July 12, 2019

Study links fracking to low birth weight
Fracking just started near my Ohio hometown, and I remember reading about a connection to the risk of having a baby with low birth weight. I want to get pregnant, but now I'm worried. How close do you have to be to a site to be affected?
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Getting enough potassium requires more than a supplement
Your recent column about how potassium can help lower blood pressure was quite helpful, but when I looked into supplements, they turned out to be almost useless. Why is that? What foods should I be eating?
Monday, July 8, 2019

Most prepared baby and toddler foods contain heavy metals
Is it true there's lead and heavy metals in some brands of baby and toddler foods? My husband and I both work, and it's hard to completely avoid using prepared foods. 
Friday, July 5, 2019

Excess Biotin can skew lab tests
I've been taking biotin for my nails, but I've read that it can mess up the results of important lab tests. Should I stop taking it?
Wednesday, July 3, 2019

New research suggests Parkinson's begins in gut
What's all this I'm hearing about Parkinson's disease having something to do with the gut? I thought it was about the nervous system and the brain.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Changing sense of taste is just one chemotherapy side effect
Dear Doctor: A dear friend is about to start chemotherapy treatments, so I've been researching the side effects she can expect, and it's a lot. I've read that even her sense of taste could change. Is that true? Can anything be done?
Friday, June 28, 2019

Vagus nerve plays a part in sensory, motor functions
One of the yoga teachers at our gym always goes on and on about the importance of the vagus nerve whenever we do deep-breathing exercises to relax. What is she talking about, and why is it important? 
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

You make the call about wireless earbuds
Dear Doctor: Are those wireless earbuds everyone seems to be wearing nowadays safe? I heard that some international researchers are petitioning the World Health Organization about them because the signals that they emit may be hurting our brains. Should we be concerned?
Monday, June 24, 2019

Energy drink consumption linked to stimulant use
Could energy drinks really lead to stimulant use? How can that be? No one's ever linked coffee or cola consumption to an increased risk of drug abuse. This sounds like some kind of urban legend.
Friday, June 21, 2019

Be on the lookout for ticks this summer
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to our monthly column devoted to your thoughts, notes and suggestions. We're deep into spring, so here's our annual reminder to be on high alert for ticks. Dress defensively, use repellents and do thorough and regular tick checks. Always seek medical care if a tick bite is followed by a rash, fever or other flulike symptoms. Be sure to also protect any four-footed companions with access to the outdoors. And now, to the inbox.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Male infertility most commonly caused by sperm
My second husband and I have tried to get pregnant for over a year now, but we have had no luck. Should we be worried about infertility? I'm the mother of a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, so the problem probably isn't with me. What causes that in a man?
Monday, June 17, 2019

Alcoholism impacts almost every part of life
DEAR DOCTOR: We have a dear friend who is 46 and has alcoholism. His liver is failing, but he blames that and all of his symptoms (fatigue, burning lungs, severe stomach pain, sinus problems, confusion) on factors besides his drinking. What are the long-term effects of abusing alcohol?
Friday, June 14, 2019

Black licorice should be consumed only in moderation
My wife wants me to quit eating black licorice because she heard it's bad for you. I think it's just that she can't stand the taste of it herself. I told her I was writing this email, and she said I have to include that I'm 42 and on blood pressure meds.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pacemakers keep the heart beating
My mom is 93, and her doctor says she needs a pacemaker to control a heart arrhythmia. How does a pacemaker work? Is the operation dangerous for someone her age?
Monday, June 10, 2019

Loss of smell may not have link to past cocaine use
Some years ago, I was addicted to cocaine. I've overcome that addiction, but it has cost me my sense of smell. Why did this happen, and what can I do?
Friday, June 7, 2019

Halotherapy should be taken with a grain of salt
I keep hearing about something called halotherapy, or salt therapy. Can it really help people who have respiratory problems and inflammation? I've heard that it's good for arthritis and for regulating blood pressure, too.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Basal tears crucial to eye health, cause blocked ducts
I've got a blocked tear duct that I'm told requires surgery. My eye weeps, but it isn't painful. However, it has become infected once. What can you tell me about this condition, and what are my treatment options?
Monday, June 3, 2019

Grilling moderation should limit health risks
Dear Doctor: Our family loves the summer barbecue season, but the "take the fun out of everything" lobby keeps saying this can increase our risk of cancer. Just how unhealthy is grilled meat? Can we do anything to make it safer?
Friday, May 31, 2019

Vigorous exercise could slow Parkinson's progress
A relative of mine was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I read recently that exercise can help slow the progression, so I want to suggest it to him, but I don't know if it's actually true.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Resistive breath training could lower blood pressure
A good friend of mine is into this new thing called resistive breath training. She says it helps runners build endurance, and she even bought a breathing gadget to practice it. Does it really help?
Monday, May 27, 2019

Just throw away that E. Coli-ridden food
- We had several questions regarding how E. coli is finding its way into romaine lettuce, and whether thorough washing can render suspect batches of leafy greens safe again.
Friday, May 24, 2019

Electric blankets may be cozy, but they can be dangerous
My wife and I sleep with an electric blanket for heat. Is there a health hazard in using it too long at night?
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Cellulitis is a common but serious condition
It took visiting four different doctors to get an accurate diagnosis of cellulitis. From what I've read, that's pretty common. There are many troubling things about it, including recurrence. Would you please cover it in your column?
Monday, May 20, 2019

Asthma medications may reduce the risk of Parkinson's
Can asthma medications really reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease? It runs in my family, so should I start taking the medications as a preventive?
Friday, May 17, 2019

Smelling junk food long enough may quash a craving
I read about a study that said smelling junk food you want to quit eating -- hello, pizza and donuts! -- will stop your craving. Is that really true? I want to eat healthier, but some foods are so hard to resist.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Retinal artery occlusion not necessarily from gaming
I read that a girl went blind in one eye after playing video games on her phone for an entire day. Is this even possible? Should I be worried about my kids, who are video game addicts?
Monday, May 13, 2019

Studies link hot drinks and esophageal cancer
I'm a tea drinker, and I like it best when it's steaming hot. My sister says drinking liquids that hot is bad for you, and that they can cause cancer. Is she right? Should I be worried?
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Lots to consider for grandfather wanting a dog
Our granddad went through a really hard time after our grandmother died last summer. He turned into a hermit. Now he's set on getting a dog, which our mom thinks is a bad idea because of all the extra work. But my brothers and I think a pet will help him be active and make him feel better. Who's right?
Monday, May 6, 2019

Smoking drastically increases risk of bladder cancer
What is the link between smoking and bladder cancer? My urologist says smoking is one of the main causes, but until I got diagnosed with bladder cancer earlier this year, I had never heard about that connection.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Cold and flu: different viruses with similar symptoms
When my husband and I both got sick last month, he was diagnosed with a cold and I was diagnosed with the flu. What's the difference?
Monday, April 29, 2019

Vaping on the rise, but risks aren't known
My grandson is always carrying around a little device that he smokes like a cigarette. It puffs smoke just like one, too. I'm a former smoker, and my lungs aren't in great shape, so I'm worried. What is he using? Is it safe?
Friday, April 26, 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

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