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home : columns : ask the doctors December 4, 2020

Wearing a mask continues to be our best defense against COVID-19
Can you please explain about masks again? Why do we need them, what kind should we wear, and what is the proper way to wear them? It would really help me to explain to my friends and family so they can be safer.
Friday, December 4, 2020

Hospital stays can leave elderly patients confused, disoriented
Why do the elderly lose ground mentally when they go to the hospital? Our grandmother had emergency gall bladder surgery, and afterward she got so confused that she thought our grandfather, who passed away, was in the next room. It lasted for a few days, and it was scary.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Block screens' blue light to get better sleep
: Our family spends a lot of time these days on our screens. I've always had trouble sleeping (mom brain), but now my husband and our two teen boys are struggling, too. Do you think all the screen time could be why?
Monday, November 30, 2020

Even while working at home, keep your body moving
DEAR DOCTORS: I've been working from home for six months, so no more bike commutes and no office staircases. My two young kids are home, too, which means I can't do a lunchtime bike ride, or even go during a break. How bad is it that I'm sitting way more than ever?
Friday, November 27, 2020

Hip fractures in elderly often lead to bad outcomes
Our grandmother, who is 91, fell and broke her left hip. She wound up needing a partial hip replacement. I've read that hip fractures are dangerous for older adults. Can you explain why? Is she still at risk, even though the surgery went well?
Monday, November 23, 2020

Internet searches for 'panic attacks' more common during covid
I had this scary episode happen where all of a sudden, it felt like the world wasn't real. My heart was racing and I thought I was going to pass out. The friend I was with said it was probably a panic attack. Is there any kind of treatment? I really don't want that to happen again.
Friday, November 20, 2020

Toenail fungus remedies abound in letters from readers
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome back to our monthly letters column. Once again, a column about the challenges of dealing with toenail fungus has brought a bumper crop of mail, with many of you sharing home remedies. Although the evidence for these types of natural agents remains limited, some people do find them helpful, and the approaches readers have shared here are not harmful.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Herceptin can be an effective addition to breast cancer treatment
I've been diagnosed with breast cancer and really appreciate your recent columns on the subject. What can you tell me about Herceptin? My oncologist has suggested it for after chemotherapy is finished. What is it going to do?
Monday, November 16, 2020

As pandemic wears on, take time for self-care
Dear Doctors: I'm a mom of three great kids and have always been healthy. But after eight months of working from home, being the teacher and keeping everything going, I've started getting sick. Plus, it feels like I'm failing. Can being stressed out make you physically ill?
Friday, November 13, 2020

Frailty assessment may be helpful for dad facing surgery
Our dad is 82 years old and may need to get a pacemaker. My brother and I recently read that surgery is hard on older people, both physically and mentally. Is getting a pacemaker going to be risky? He's physically pretty weak, and we're worried the surgery will be too much for him.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hospital programs help patients with outward effects of cancer
Monday, November 9, 2020

COVID 'Long-haulers' feel virus's effects long after recovery
Dear Doctors: My uncle tested positive for the coronavirus last winter and wound up in the hospital. He was lucky, and he recovered, but it is six months later and he still is not completely better. He says he's what's known as a "long-hauler." Can you please explain what that is, and why it happens? 
Friday, November 6, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 309th day of 2020 and the 44th day of autumn.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Exploring treatments for excessive sweating
I've read your column for years but have yet to see anything about my problem. I tend to sweat a lot, not under my arms, but in my crotch area. It's embarrassing and even causes me to get a lot of UTIs. I've tried panty liners and medicated powders, wear only cotton underwear, but nothing works. I'm so frustrated. What can I do?
Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Smoke from western fires can strain lungs thousands of miles away
We're in central Oregon, and even though the wildfires aren't right next to our town, we've had bad air quality all summer. My husband and I and our kids are feeling irritation in our lungs and sinuses, like when you're catching a cold. Can this happen even when you're not close enough to see the smoke?
Monday, November 2, 2020

Studies indicate fitness trackers can predict illness
Dear Doctors: My husband caught a cold this summer, and he swears the readings from his fitness tracker a few days before warned him that he was about to be sick. Do you think that's really possible?
Friday, October 30, 2020

Exercise with Afib appears to be a good practice
I used to be pretty active, but after a diagnosis of Afib in the spring, I've become reluctant to exercise. My wife is after me to get moving again, and my son says he just read that people with Afib live longer if they exercise. Is he right?
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Early detection is key to colon cancer survival
My husband and I were shocked when our nephew was diagnosed with colon cancer. He's only 36 years old. Isn't that awfully young? It seems like we're hearing about a lot of younger people getting this kind of cancer. Why is this happening?
Monday, October 26, 2020

Congestive heart failure: what to expect
Our grandfather was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a few years ago. His strength and endurance have declined a lot, and now he's on oxygen. What are some of the signs that his congestive heart failure is advanced?
Friday, October 23, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 295th day of 2020 and the 30th day of autumn.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Treatment has changed since his last broken rib
My husband slipped while out on his boat and cracked two ribs. He had a broken rib as a teenager (varsity football) and remembers having his chest wrapped, but that's not happening this time. Why not? He's in a lot of pain and it seems like wrapping could help.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Bee venom shows promise, but needs more study
We heard a story on the news that bee venom can cure breast cancer. Is that really true? How does stuff like that even get researched?
Monday, October 19, 2020

Managing multiple meds for elderly patients
Dear Doctors: My wife and I are lending my parents a hand during the lockdown. They're in their 80s, and one thing we've noticed is how many meds they are taking. They're from a bunch of different doctors, and some may even be duplicates. How do we get things organized?
Friday, October 16, 2020

Understanding resting heart rate
My heart rate was 99 when I went for my physical recently, and my doctor said that's too high. I explained it's usually about 80, but medical appointments make me nervous. Still, it got me to thinking: What's a normal resting heart rate? How do I get it to be lower?
Friday, October 9, 2020

In search of essential Vitamin D
I've heard that a lot of people don't get enough vitamin D in their diet. What about getting it from the sun? Is that too risky? Also, what happens if you don't get enough?
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Herd immunity is possible, but cost is high
Can you explain herd immunity? We have it with diseases like smallpox and polio, but when it comes to the coronavirus, everyone keeps saying it's a bad idea. Why wouldn't it work for COVID-19?
Monday, October 5, 2020

Flu shots are especially important in COVID-19 era
I'm 23 years old and hardly ever get sick, not even a cold. I usually skip getting a flu shot, but my dad keeps telling my brother and me that it's really important to get one this year. Can you explain why? Is it going to protect us against the coronavirus?
Friday, October 2, 2020

Navigating the confusing waters of mammogram recommendations
I keep hearing different things about at what age and how often a woman should be getting a mammogram. Can you please go over the latest advice?
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

How you can volunteer to be in a COVID-19 vaccine study
How can I volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine study?

Governments and companies are setting up websites where people can sign up.

Enthusiasm is high: More than 400,000 people have signed a registry  of possible volunteers that’s part of a vaccine network set up by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

But before raising your hand, it’s important to understand how the research works.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Cervical surgery relieves mystery itch
A friend had to get one of his cervical discs replaced because it got damaged from surfing. He was surprised when his doctor said that getting a new disc is also why a constant itch along his right forearm finally went away. What's the connection? Why would neck surgery fix that itch?
Monday, September 28, 2020

What makes a food 'processed'?
I know that processed foods aren't good for me and should be avoided, but I still have some questions. Could you please explain why they are unhealthy and provide some specific examples of such foods?
Friday, September 25, 2020

Dad's diuretic could be linked to gout
Can you please explain what gout is and how it's treated? Our father is 81 years old and was just told that he has gout. His doctor says it could be because he takes water pills for swelling due to congestive heart failure. Does that make sense?
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

COVID-19 affects sense of smell differently than colds, flu
Why are people making a big deal out of the fact that you can lose your sense of smell and taste when you get sick with COVID-19? The same thing happens to me when I've got a plain old cold.
Monday, September 21, 2020

Gutoscopy uses smart pill to collect samples
Dear Doctor: What on earth is a "gutoscopy"? We saw it on the news -- something about a pill that goes in one end and comes out the other, but it sounded more like science fiction than anything real.
Friday, September 18, 2020

Breathing into a paper bag can calm anxiety attack
I was having a panic attack and thought I might faint. My dad had me breathe into a paper bag, and it helped me calm down. I've only ever seen that on TV. Why did it work? Was it because I ended up doing deep breathing?
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Readers still have questions about COVID-19
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to the late-summer edition of the letters column. Along with so many of you, we're facing record-breaking heat, high humidity and a few natural disasters. All the more reason to seek refuge in our ongoing chat about health and medicine.
Monday, September 14, 2020

Drusen severity depends on if they're hard or soft
My eye doctor says I have something called "drusen" on top of my retina. I've read that this is connected to macular degeneration, and I'm worried. Can you please explain more about it?
Friday, September 11, 2020

Preventing falls could save lives
Would you please write about the risks of falls for the elderly, which can be fatal? The colonial houses in my area are dangerous and lead to many serious injuries and deaths. Now that so many of us are home alone more than ever, calling attention to this would be helpful.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Toenail fungus takes time to fix
I've tried all the toenail fungus cures in our drug store, and so far nothing works. Why not? What can I do? I really miss wearing sandals.
Monday, September 7, 2020

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