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home : columns : ask the doctors December 12, 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

Nonallergic rhinitis can be triggered by spicy foods
Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to our monthly letters column. We're happy to report that you've been busy correspondents, so onward to your letters.
Friday, November 22, 2019

Persistent bruising after break could be hemosiderin staining
How long should a bruise last? I broke my fibula nearly nine months ago, but I still have a yellowish discoloration on my shin, above the fracture. What could it be? My doctor is unconcerned.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Kids want dad to try hypnosis to quit smoking
My sisters and I want our dad to quit smoking, but he says that he's tried before and just can't do it. Should he try hypnosis? Does it work?
Monday, November 18, 2019

Eating wasabi won't bring on broken heart syndrome
Dear Doctor: I heard that eating some wasabi gave a woman a heart attack. I love sushi and have it a few times a week, and I do use wasabi. Do I have to stop?
Friday, November 15, 2019

Vegan diet can accommodate need for choline
I've been eating a vegan diet for about a year. My mom says she read that vegans don't get enough choline, and that's dangerous. Is this true? What is choline, and where does it come from?
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Frozen shoulder will eventually thaw
One of the moms in our car pool had to drop out because she has a frozen shoulder. I've never heard of that. What is it, and how did she get it?
Monday, November 11, 2019

It's important to wear masks to protect from wildfire smoke
Dear Doctor: Is wildfire smoke really that dangerous? We're in northern Idaho and our town has been handing out face masks, but I've heard they don't really do much. What should I do to keep our family safe?
Friday, November 8, 2019

research could advance understanding of afm
This week we wanted to discuss some important updates on several topics you've asked about recently, including the poliolike illness called acute flaccid myelitis, the potentially deadly EEE mosquito virus and vaping lung disease.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nose breathing has more benefits than mouth breathing
I prefer to breathe through my mouth at all times. This is due to fairly constant nasal congestion. Am I getting the same amount of oxygen as breathing through my nose?
Monday, November 4, 2019

Rare auto-brewery syndrome makes sober people drunk
I heard about a guy who tested as drunk but hadn't had any alcohol. Is that really even possible, or is it some kind of urban legend?
Friday, November 1, 2019

Ear piercings create open wounds susceptible to bacteria
My boyfriend let a friend of his pierce his earlobe and cartilage, and both places got infected. He says things will get better on their own, but I'm worried. What should he be doing?
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fitful sleep not necessarily a sign of Alzheimer's disease
My husband has fallen into a strange sleep pattern. Some nights he's awake until 3 a.m., tosses and turns all night, then wakes up tired. I've read that strange sleep cycles may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, which his mother had. I'm worried, but what can I do?
Monday, October 28, 2019

Cannabis use during pregnancy linked to low birth weight
Several studies have shown a correlation between marijuana use and low birth weight, and I understand that marijuana today has been cultivated to be much stronger than what was used in earlier years. Should this be a concern for women who are pregnant?
Friday, October 25, 2019

Senior citizens should listen to body regarding exercise
I'm in my 70s, and I work about 35 hours a week doing shipping, cleaning and light lifting. I've stopped visiting the gym because I'm too tired after work. My back hurts, and I've had heart issues recently, leaving me with a pacemaker and defibrillator. Are the 10,000 steps I walk at work each day enough exercise?
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

There's a reason you turn down the stereo when concentrating
Dear Doctor: My boyfriend laughs when I turn down the car stereo when I'm trying to find a new address, but I've seen his dad do the same thing when he's changing lanes on the freeway. Why does the quiet make you feel like you can see better?
Monday, October 21, 2019

There's a reason you turn down the stereo when concentrating
MY boyfriend laughs when I turn down the car stereo when I'm trying to find a new address, but I've seen his dad do the same thing when he's changing lanes on the freeway. Why does the quiet make you feel like you can see better?
Monday, October 21, 2019

Moisture is the key to battling hemorrhoids
Hello dear readers, and welcome to the first letters column of autumn. Are we alone in wondering how summer flew by so quickly? Here at Ask the Doctors headquarters, you've kept our mailboxes full, so we're diving in.
Friday, October 18, 2019

Two missing gut microbes could influence mental health
I just read about a study where people who were depressed actually had a different gut microbiome than people who weren't depressed. Is that true? Does your gut determine how you feel?
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Chelation therapy rids the body of excess heavy metals
A friend who was working on his old Victorian home in New Orleans started getting bad headaches. He tested high for heavy metals, and now he's supposed to do something called "chelation therapy." What is that?
Monday, October 14, 2019

Restrict red meat to an occasional splurge
I've always heard that it's the saturated fat in red meat that leads to a heart attack. But now I'm reading that it has something to do with the gut? Does that mean probiotics will make it OK to eat steak, which my wife and I just love?
Friday, October 11, 2019

Increasing temperatures extending the West Nile virus 'season'
Dear Doctor: West Nile virus is active again in southern California. What happens when you are infected? Is there a vaccine?
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Increasing temperatures extending the West Nile virus "season'
West Nile virus is active again in southern California. What happens when you are infected? Is there a vaccine?
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Explore tools to manage stress of new job
Dear Doctor: I just started my first post-college job, which I love. Nevertheless, I've been feeling really stressed and anxious. My boyfriend says stress can affect your health. What can I do?
Monday, October 7, 2019

Explore tools to manage stress of new job
I just started my first post-college job, which I love. Nevertheless, I've been feeling really stressed and anxious. My boyfriend says stress can affect your health. What can I do?
Monday, October 7, 2019

Hand, foot and mouth disease common in kids
Dear Doctor: We thought our 4-year-old son had caught a cold at daycare because he had a slight fever, but then he got these weird red spots on his feet. Our doctor said it's foot and mouth disease. Is it dangerous?
Friday, October 4, 2019

Senses of taste and smell often diminish as we age
I've been gradually losing my senses of taste and smell. As a foodie and accomplished cook, this is disheartening. I'm in great health, and I hope it's not just "getting old." I'm 82 and would like to have my taste buds back.
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hyperkyphosis symptoms range from pain to limb paralysis
I had scoliosis as a child, and now, at age 72, I'm living with kyphosis in my middle and upper back. It's very painful, and I would like to know more about it.
Monday, September 30, 2019

Hatha yoga is good therapy for lower back pain
A few months ago, my husband and I helped our oldest son move into his first apartment. I don't know what happened exactly, but my lower back has been hurting ever since. I would rather not use any medications and have heard that yoga can be good for back pain. Is this true?
Friday, September 27, 2019

No new treatments for polymyalgia rheumatica
I am a 77-year-old man who used to exercise regularly. I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica a couple of years ago. Sometimes I feel like it is going to disappear, and other times it seems to worsen. Are there any new remedies?
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Gut microbiome may have connection to mental health
I've been on a few different medications for depression, but none of them did much of anything. A friend keeps going on about psychobiotics, which to me doesn't even sound like a real word. What is he talking about?
Monday, September 23, 2019

New therapies offer hope to migraine sufferers
DEAR DOCTOR: I hate having migraines. The pain is brutal, they knock me down for days and everyone thinks I'm just having a bad headache. Why do they happen? Can you tell me about any new therapies?
Friday, September 20, 2019

New therapies offer hope to migraine sufferers
DEAR DOCTOR: I hate having migraines. The pain is brutal, they knock me down for days and everyone thinks I'm just having a bad headache. Why do they happen? Can you tell me about any new therapies?
Friday, September 20, 2019

Close to 200 cases of new lung disease linked to vaping
Dear Doctor: What's going on with that outbreak of lung disease that's hitting people who vape? Our 20-year-old son and a lot of his friends vape sometimes, and we're getting worried.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Close to 200 cases of new lung disease linked to vaping
What's going on with that outbreak of lung disease that's hitting people who vape? Our 20-year-old son and a lot of his friends vape sometimes, and we're getting worried.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery reduces stomach size
I feel like I've tried every diet, and no matter what, I just can't seem to lose weight. A friend who had a surgery that removed part of her stomach was finally able to lose 65 pounds. I wonder if that's safe?
Monday, September 16, 2019










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