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home : columns : ask the doctors 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

Mice study reveals mushrooms' link to lower glucose levels
: Can white button mushrooms help control my blood glucose? I saw some headlines about this a while back, but it sounds like a correlation to me -- not a clear cause and effect. Maybe it's just that people who eat more mushrooms also eat less junk food?
Monday, December 24, 2018

High-dose flu vaccine shown to be more effective in older adults
My husband and I have two teenagers, and we also take care of my 80-year-old mother. The kids and my husband and I all got our regular flu shots, but I just read about a new flu shot that's for people who are over 65. Why do older people need a different flu vaccine? Does it really work?
Friday, December 21, 2018

Taking a break from exercise may be detrimental to your health
I'm 35 years old and a regular exerciser. Sometimes, though, when I'm on vacation or just want to veg out, I need a break. Now I'm hearing that this is really bad for your metabolism, especially as you get older. Seriously? Taking a couple of weeks off really makes that much difference?
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Delayed sleep cycle linked to range of health problems
My mother and my sister are both night owls who stay up late and sleep late the next morning. In our family we never thought anything of it. But now it turns out their sleeping habits are something called "delayed sleep phase disorder." Why is being a night owl considered to be a disorder? Can it be cured?
Monday, December 17, 2018

Recent studies call into question use of low-dose aspirin
DEAR DOCTOR: Our dad had a mild stroke about a year ago and has been taking daily low-dose aspirin ever since. But I just heard about a new study that says this kind of therapy isn't actually helpful and might even be dangerous. Is this true? Should he stop? I'm confused!
Friday, December 14, 2018

Pancreatic cancer's location makes it difficult to diagnose
Is there a cure for pancreatic cancer? Does anyone know what causes it? Does eating raw steak cause it? Or smoking?
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Readers ask about melatonin, cherry complex and sodium intake
Hello, dear readers! Once again, you've filled our overflowing mailbox with questions, concerns and some kind words (thank you, as always, for those), so let's get right to business:
Monday, December 10, 2018

Woman asks whether her strenuous workout routine is too intense
I wonder, as a 67-year-old woman, whether my workout routine would be considered too strenuous? I walk six miles and use weight machines five days a week, and do an hour each of yoga, Zumba, cardio and stretching each week. This routine has helped me lose 27 pounds and get off of blood pressure medicine. Do you think I need to slow down?
Friday, December 7, 2018

Study finds tall people more likely to develop blood clots
Our uncle, who is 44, recently got diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg, and it was a medical emergency. Our mom (she's his older sister) is a nurse and says that because he's so tall -- 6-foot-4 -- his risk is higher. Is that really true? I thought that it depended more on weight than height.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Researchers studying how gut microbiome affects cancer treatment
I read that microbes can affect how our body deals with immunotherapy. A friend of mine is about to start immunotherapy for lung cancer. Is there anything she can do to increase the chances that her gut will help her body beat this cancer?
Monday, December 3, 2018

Reader asks whether blood type should dictate diet choices
Does eating for one's blood type really work? For my own blood type, I am supposed to avoid foods like avocados, bananas, strawberries and many other foods that I would consider healthy choices. I certainly don't want to feel guilty for eating foods that this plan suggests avoiding. What is your take on this?
Friday, November 30, 2018

Indulge in 'cheat' foods, but only in moderation
We're often told we can consume alcohol, sweets, or burgers and fries "in moderation." My sister and I had a conversation about that sort of recommendation just the other day. What does moderation actually mean? Is it one beer a day? One burger a month? Ten french fries once a week?
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Updated blood pressure guidelines leave some seniors perplexed
What is considered a normal blood pressure for a person in their late 70s? My doctor said it should be in area of 120/80. But I have read that older persons' pressure may be higher -- closer to 140/90 -- and that pressure would not be dangerous. Am I the only one confused by the new blood pressure guidelines?
Monday, November 26, 2018

Woman concerned about mistaking anxiety attack for a stroke
Dear Doctor: I've been on blood pressure medication for 20 years and am now going through menopause. For me, this includes anxiety attacks. Symptoms of stroke and anxiety attacks seem pretty similar. How can I know for sure if I'm having a stroke versus an anxiety attack?
Friday, November 23, 2018

Rare disease has left 58-year-old woman bedridden
My 58-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with postural orthopedic tachycardia syndrome. She's changed from a healthy active woman into someone who has spent most of the past two years in bed. A gamut of tests and medicines have failed to provide relief. What is this condition and what can be done about it?
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Family history of breast cancer may increase males' risk
My husband's mother had breast cancer, and so did both of his aunts. He's really worried about our two daughters' risk, but I've read that breast cancer can affect men as well. Shouldn't he also be worried about himself?
Monday, November 19, 2018

Parents worried that social media is making their teens anxious
Dear Doctor: My wife and I worry about how social media rules the lives of all four of our teens, especially our two daughters. I get that there must be some upsides, but mostly we see it making the kids stressed and anxious. Are we overreacting? Should we take their phones away?
Friday, November 16, 2018

Readers offer feedback on weight loss and extra sunlight
Hello again, dear readers! Once again, you've kept our mailboxes brimming, so let's get right to work.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

There is no 'right' way to grieve after the death of a spouse
My wife of 40 years died seven months ago after a battle with cancer. Since then, I have been suffering from frequent bouts of depression, haunted by the loss of my life partner. During these episodes I can feel something like a mild form of an adrenaline rush. What is it? Should I be worried?
Monday, November 12, 2018

Study indicates weight loss can lessen breast cancer risk
I recently read an article that said even a little bit of weight loss -- just 5 percent of your total body weight -- can lessen your risk of breast cancer. Why is that? Does it hold true for women who are of normal weight?
Friday, November 9, 2018

Practicing good hygiene won't disrupt oral microbiome
Our dad is a science geek, and his new obsession is the gut microbiome. But now he's telling anyone who will listen that the mouth microbiome is just as important as the one in the gut. Is that really true? Am I helping or hurting it when I brush my teeth?
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Meningitis vaccine can be a lifesaver
My son is headed for college, and I've heard he should get the meningitis vaccine. Our doctor didn't recommend it, so I figured he'd be fine without it. Is the vaccine really that important?
Monday, November 5, 2018

Penicillin allergy is even rarer than many think
DEAR DOCTOR: How do I know if I have a penicillin allergy? I always tell doctors that, yes, I'm allergic to penicillin, because I think I remember a bad reaction from when I was a kid, but, honestly, I'm not sure. Does it even matter if I continue to avoid the penicillin family?
Friday, November 2, 2018

Studies offer insights into how personality traits affect aging
Just how much of a role do personality traits have in determining how long someone will live? Recent news reports have suggested that they're important, but the explanation didn't really make that much sense to me.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Readers offer feedback on cbd and how to treat 'hanger'
Hello, dear readers, and welcome to autumn! You've been keeping our mailboxes full, so let's dive right in.
Monday, October 29, 2018

Study links vitamin B supplements to increased lung cancer risk
I'm 67 years old and because I was told that it's harder for folks my age to get enough vitamin B12, I started taking a B complex supplement. My husband, who is 72, did, too. But now it turns out that these are linked to lung cancer? What should we do?
Friday, October 26, 2018

Try not to yawn while reading this
The 7-year-old in our family has discovered yawns are "catching," and he just loves it when he can get his daddy to start yawning, too. Of course, now he wants to know why, but even after looking online, we're not sure of the answer. Does anyone really understand yawning?
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Latest study adds to increasing data on benefits of coffee
I'm only 22 and already I've gotten whiplash from all the studies about coffee. First it's bad for you, then it's good. Then, oops, no -- it's actually bad. My girlfriend's a serious coffee drinker, and she's thrilled about another new study that says coffee's going to help her live longer. Is that right? How do we know what to believe?
Monday, October 22, 2018

Exercising in middle age can make stiff heart muscle more supple
I've never really enjoyed exercise and have managed to get to a fairly healthy 58 without doing very much of it at all. But I just got remarried and my husband, who is pretty active, wants me to start some kind of fitness program. Really, at my age, what good will it do?
Friday, October 19, 2018

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