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home : columns : ask the doctors August 16, 2018

Mom insists daughter try to control her 'hanger'
My 16-year-old daughter is normally very sweet and accommodating. But when she's hungry, she becomes a completely different person. I think she can control her mood when she's hungry; she insists she can't. Who's right?
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Parents' decision to not vaccinate baby worries grandma
My son and his wife have a 13-month-old son, born at home, whom they refuse to have vaccinated. In fact, the only time he's seen a doctor was a month ago when he had a bad cold. How can I convince them of the merits of vaccination?
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sleep aids are meant only for short-term use
My doctor offered to prescribe sleeping pills because I'm under a lot of stress at work and am suffering from insomnia. I'm tempted, but the side effects scare me. How often do people sleepwalk or binge-eat or do other activities after taking sleeping pills? I even heard that one woman drove across the country!
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Going gluten-free brings relief to those with celiac disease
DEAR DOCTOR: My 40-year-old grandson has just been diagnosed with celiac disease after months of feeling poorly and being underweight. What's next? Where can he go for guidance and what should he do? I want to help, but don't know where to start.
Monday, August 13, 2018

Weight lifting can boost mood and build self-confidence
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm a 45-year-old woman and, ever since my divorce, I've struggled with depression. I tried yoga and meditation, and they're fine. But when a friend gave me a gift certificate to a gym and I started weight lifting, I saw a real change. I'm less stressed and I feel more like myself again. Am I imagining things, or does weight lifting help you feel better emotionally? Why would that be?
Saturday, August 11, 2018

Study results point to the importance of diet in fertility
DEAR DOCTOR: I recently read that fast food interferes with a woman's chances of conceiving. What's the connection?
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Recent studies show the benefits of eating eggs
I'm old enough to remember when eggs were good, then bad, and then so bad they were probably going to give you a heart attack. Now I'm hearing we've come full circle and eggs are good for you again. What gives?
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Consider getting most of your 'eye vitamins' from your diet
Do "eye vitamins" have any benefit at all? I know a lot of seniors who believe in them, but I'm skeptical. 
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Readers follow up with questions regarding past columns
Hello, dear readers, and happy summer! We hope you're getting a chance to enjoy the longer days and warmer weather. Here at Ask the Doctors headquarters, our mailboxes continue to overflow. Let's dive in.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Stretching can help alleviate pain of Plantar Fasciitis
I recently began running again after a six-year hiatus. My only problem is that my heels hurt after I run -- so much so that I limp for a few minutes the next morning until my body adjusts. As the day progresses, I stop noticing the pain. Any suggestions?
Monday, August 6, 2018

Cannabinoids' effect on glucose control still not yet understood
I have Type 1 diabetes and have used marijuana for years to control my blood sugar. I've seen my blood sugar drop 100 points in five minutes with marijuana, a lot faster than my Humalog insulin can manage. Why is that? Will medical marijuana ever go mainstream?
Saturday, August 4, 2018

Ionizing radiation increases cancer risk for frequent flyers
My daughter isn't a flight attendant, but she flies a lot for business. Is she at an increased risk for cancer?
Friday, August 3, 2018

SPF scale indicates length of time you can spend in the sun
I always reach for the highest SPF when I'm buying sunscreen, especially for the kids. But my mom says what matters most is the type of UV rays the sunscreen is blocking. Why is that? What does SPF actually measure?
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Patient's foot cramps relieved by Guaifenesin
I was recently diagnosed with COPD and prescribed two inhalers and two nebulizers, only to quickly develop severe cramps in my feet. I noticed, however, that when I take Mucinex (guaifenesin), the foot cramps disappeared completely. Is it safe to continue to take it?
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rates of colorectal cancer rising among younger Americans
I'm 47 years old and was very happy to have three more years before my doctor started bugging me about a colonoscopy. But my husband says there are new guidelines, and I'm now actually two years late! Why the changes?
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Finasteride's side effects take toll on married couple
My husband's doctor prescribed finasteride to treat his enlarged prostate, and he's been taking it for years. Gradually, the side effects became noticeable, specifically erectile dysfunction. Shouldn't men be warned about this? Aren't there other options for an enlarged prostate?
Monday, July 30, 2018

Physiological effects of running can slow aspects of aging
Dear Doctor: I've been an avid runner since high school, but I'm turning 65 this summer and my wife and my kids have been after me to switch to walking. I think I remember hearing about some study that said running actually makes you younger. If so, can you help with a recap? I need some good arguments for our next family gathering.
Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cases of menstrual-related toxic shock have dropped steeply
Dear Doctor: I recently read about a woman who lost a leg from toxic shock syndrome and might lose another one. How is this possible? I thought toxic shock was related to using tampons.
Friday, July 27, 2018

Diet, exercise and flexibility training can alleviate OA pain
I just learned that the constant pain in my right knee, which I injured playing college basketball, is osteoarthritis. I'm only 33 and want to do everything I can to get better. Is it true that fish oil can help? Is there anything else I can do?
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Recent study suggests dark chocolate can improve mood and memory
I have some dark chocolate every day and my (otherwise kind and loving) husband teases me for believing the news stories that chocolate is good for you. Please tell me that I haven't fallen for a bunch of quack science!
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Study's participants lost weight without counting calories
Is it true that just cutting back on refined sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods can lead to weight loss without cutting calories? If so, count me in. But I could eat a whole lot of whole grains and vegetables before being satisfied. That's still a lot of calories.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Getting enough sunlight is crucial to our emotional well-being
It seems as if people, without fail, say they feel better when the sun is shining, yet the medical community seems to tell people to stay away from the sun. The sun is shining as I ask: Is there some conspiracy here?
Monday, July 23, 2018

MCI a condition of decline in functions like memory and language
My brother-in-law, who recently retired from his job as a research scientist at age 68, has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. I don't want to upset my sister with too many questions, so I wonder if you can explain what this means? Is he going to get Alzheimer's? Can anything be done?
Saturday, July 21, 2018

Women's likelihood of bladder prolapse increases with age
I am a woman in my early 70s who has been diagnosed with a bladder prolapse. I have no symptoms and was told I don't need surgery until symptoms appear. I have since learned that this condition is quite prevalent among women, but seldom discussed or written about. Should I seek surgery, which could lead to serious complications, even though my case is mild?
Friday, July 20, 2018

Consult with your doctor before deciding on elective surgery
I'm not one for cosmetic surgery nor have I ever had money for such things, but now that I'm 61, I have more than the usual saggy breasts that come with age. Is corrective surgery unwise at my age? If I had thought forward to how the sagging would get progressively worse, I believe I would have tried something at an earlier age.
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wife's fear of side effects keeps her from taking medication
Could you please reassure my wife about "side effects"? She won't take some of her prescribed medicine because the potential side effects include liver damage, blindness, stroke, heart attack and death. I have tried to explain the legalities of these statements, but only to a deaf ear. (Maybe that's a side effect too!)
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cannabinoids have become subject of extensive scientific inquiry
How are medical marijuana and CBD oil different from each other? Some states don't allow sale of the former but do allow the latter. I ask because an over-the-counter CBD oil -- which does not contain THC -- stopped my microscopic colitis within two days.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Eliminating certain foods can lessen acid reflux severity
What are the best medications for acid reflux? I've tried doxycycline and metronidazole (Flagyl), for H. pylori infections, which made me sick, as well as Prilosec and Pepto-Bismol.
Monday, July 16, 2018

Advice on RFID-blocking products and noise-canceling headphones
Hello, dear readers!
We're on the cusp of summer and that means it's our duty as doctors (and mothers) to remind you to please protect yourselves and your family against the sun as you spend more time outdoors, and against the ticks and mosquitos the season always brings.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Umbilical hernias are common and often don't need surgery
DEAR DOCTOR: I am a 64-year-old male in good health, although I have a bit of a gut in the middle. My issue is that I have developed an umbilical hernia that looks like a large "outie." It is not very attractive, but it is not causing any pain or discomfort. What course of action should I take?
Friday, July 13, 2018

Chronic wasting disease on the rise among deer in the U.S.
My dad and brothers are hunters, so there's always deer meat in the freezer and it's often on the menu. But I'm hearing that it's now linked to a brain disease. Should we be worried? 
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Genetic tool evaluates breast cancer patients' treatment options
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is terrified of the chemotherapy her doctor is recommending. I read that some women can skip it. Is this true?
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Withdrawal from antidepressant use can cause physical symptoms
Just how addictive are antidepressants? My doctor thinks I should take one, but I know a lot of people who have had trouble stopping them. Do the drugs even work?
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Reader weighs love of running against pain of arthritis in back
I am 55, and I love to run. I don't overdo it, usually only seven to 10 miles per week. But now that I have arthritis in my back, doctors have told me to quit running. Yes, running hurts most days, but I feel as if I can conquer the world after a good run. I tried to run/walk, but it's just not me. Do I have to give it up altogether?
Monday, July 9, 2018

Studies suggest knee ligament damage may lead to Osteoarthritis
I tore my knee ligament playing soccer a month ago and my cousin, who had the same injury but from snowboarding, says that means I'll get arthritis in the next few years. Is he right, even though I'm only 23?
Saturday, July 7, 2018

Antibody tests can help solidify diagnosis of IBS
How accurate is the blood test for irritable bowel syndrome? My gastroenterologist says that one exists but that he doesn't feel it has been proved effective.
Friday, July 6, 2018

Study indicates sense of smell may be tied to cognitive function
Could one's sense of smell really be used to predict Alzheimer's? I've never had a very good sense of smell, so does that mean I'm doomed?
Thursday, July 5, 2018

Benefits of lung cancer screening may not be greater than risks
I smoked for more than 20 years. And although I stopped about 20 years ago -- I'm now in my early 60s -- I worry about what changes it might have wrought in my cells. Should I get a CT scan just to be sure?
Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Study shows that wounds sustained in daytime heal faster
Apparently, wounds that occur at night don't heal as well as those that occur in the daytime. Why would that be -- and what can people do if they're hurt at night?
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Polymyalgia Rheumatica symptoms similar to arthritis
Please inform your readers about polymyalgia rheumatica. I thought I was experiencing arthritis, until my doctor informed me otherwise.
Monday, July 2, 2018

Dentures don't need to be an impediment to a balanced diet
Dear Doctor: I know I need to eat more vegetables, but because I have dentures, I can't chew them well enough to swallow easily. I have particular problems with celery, lettuce, oranges and tomato skins. If I were to "masticate" them in a food processor, would I still get the benefits, or would the processor blade destroy too many cells?
Saturday, June 30, 2018

Burkitt Lymphoma linked to viral infections
Dear Doctor: Could you tell me about the causes, treatment and remission rates for Burkitt lymphoma?
Friday, June 29, 2018

Cognitive dysfunction a concern for elderly post-op patients
My 81-year-old father is scheduled for a heart procedure, and I'm actually less worried about the surgery itself than the effects of the anesthesia. I've read that it can lead to memory loss in the elderly. Is there any way to help him?
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Allergic reactions to nickel are quite common
What can you tell me about an allergy to nickel? I recently had skin testing after experiencing itchy skin, a rash and fluid-filled blisters that several doctors thought might be mosquito-related. Instead, I tested positive for nickel allergy. Even the nickel in my bra clasps and earrings make me break out. Do I need to avoid certain foods? Is this problem hereditary?
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Incidence of tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses growing rapidly
It seems like every time I turn on the news someone's freaking out about ticks and mosquitoes. Haven't they always been around? What's with the alarm bells all of a sudden?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Oscillococcinum's effectiveness as flu treatment is inconclusive
Does Oscillococcinum work as a flu treatment?
Monday, June 25, 2018

Kilauea eruption producing heavy sulfur dioxide emissions
Our 68-year-old father moved to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii two years ago. He's not that great about using sunscreen, so my siblings and I always figured skin cancer would be the biggest health threat. But now with the Kilauea volcano, we're way more worried about the toxic fumes. What are they, and are they really as dangerous as the news stories say?
Saturday, June 23, 2018

Rates of erectile dysfunction have increased over past 15 years
I have heard recently from a friend that watching internet pornography can lead to erectile dysfunction. Is this true?
Friday, June 22, 2018

Go online to learn about water quality in your community
Just how unsafe is chromium-6, the chemical at the heart of the movie "Erin Brockovich"? I read that it's still in the water in some parts of the country. How is that possible? How do I find out about water quality in my area?
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Study links use of short-acting ccbs to pancreatic cancer
I'm a middle-aged woman on blood pressure medication, but recently heard that one type of this medication could raise the risk of pancreatic cancer. What type is that, and if it's mine, should I change?
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Scientists identify metabolic process tied to inflammation
I read that scientists are close to being able to "turn off" inflammation. What does that mean? And isn't that dangerous, since inflammation is a natural part of the immune system?
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heart monitor will assess number of pvcs over 24-hour period
About 15 years ago, while giving blood, I was advised of an irregularity, which my doctor confirmed after an EKG, known as premature ventricular contractions. He told me not to worry, and I've not had any problems. Now I'm 79 and still in good health, but my current doctor had me wear a heart monitor and has now referred me to a cardiologist. Should I be concerned?
Monday, June 18, 2018

Potential mumps outbreak feared after exposure to virus at event
Dear Doctor: Are mumps really dangerous? Thousands of people apparently may have been exposed at a cheerleading event a few months ago, which seemed to upset public health officials. My kids have been vaccinated, but I'm not sure if I have been, or even if I've had the disease. Should I be concerned? 
Saturday, June 16, 2018

Slowly progressing cataracts may not affect vision at first
DEAR DOCTOR: I'm 62, and during my routine eye exam yesterday, the doctor said that I am showing the first signs of cataracts. I know that cataracts develop slowly, but she wants to see me in six months. Does a six-month wait make sense?
Friday, June 15, 2018

Don't overdo it when launching a new workout routine
I'm a middle-aged guy, and I thought my health was fine. But I just got diagnosed with pre-diabetes, so I've started hitting the gym pretty hard -- cardio five days a week, strength-training three days a week. Now I read that all this activity can raise my risk of a heart attack. What gives?
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Angioedema can be difficult to control
My doctor diagnosed me with food-allergy-related angioedema and sent me to an allergist, who couldn't find a cause. I'm afraid to eat anything because I never know when it's going to flare up, making my tongue, lips and inner mouth around my gums swell. I take Zyrtec and Benadryl, but they're not especially helpful. What else can I do?
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Toddler's remarkable story highlights hyperbaric oxygen therapy
How did oxygen therapy help the brain of that toddler who almost drowned a few years ago? Has the child completely recovered from her near-death experience?
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lifestyle changes can reduce frequency of atrial fibrillation
I've suffered from atrial fibrillation for several years now. I recently read that overall heart health could reduce the risk of the condition. Is it too late for me, considering I've already been diagnosed?
Monday, June 11, 2018

Ongoing research into hiv treatment shows promise
Is it true that HIV can now be considered a chronic disease? Does that mean people are no longer looking for a true cure?
Saturday, June 9, 2018

Cholesterol-lowering statin causes reader muscle weakness
I am an 88-year-old man who, until recently, played a decent game of golf twice a week. Then, about 18 months ago, I began to experience weakness throughout my body, especially in my legs. Casual research indicated that Crestor, a statin I have taken for several years, was likely to blame. My doctor took me off Crestor two months ago in hopes that the condition would reverse, but any improvement is insignificant. Why do doctors prescribe debilitating drugs with no regard to side effect warnings?
Friday, June 8, 2018

Scientists continuing to study how fiber aids gut microbiome
I know that all sorts of studies show that fiber is good for you, but has anyone figured out the reason why?
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Further study needed on magnesium and kidney stone formation
Can patients with chronic kidney stones reduce their likelihood of problems by adding daily magnesium to their diet?
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Adding weight-lifting regimen as we age improves overall health
I retired from a demanding desk job last year and, at age 65, have had to face the facts -- I have become sedentary and need to lose at least 20 pounds. My wife is helping me out with a more healthful diet. But my son says that in addition to the swimming and cycling program I'm on, I need to start lifting weights. Why aren't the pool and the bike enough?
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Researchers still studying link between TBI and Parkinson's
I had several concussions when I was younger due to various sports activities, not to mention one singularly bad bike ride. Now I read that a single concussion can raise the risk of Parkinson's disease. Just how serious is this increase in risk, and should I be worried?
Monday, June 4, 2018

Lettuce recall serves as reminder to practice good hand hygiene

DEAR DOCTOR: Like practically everyone else in the United States, we threw out our romaine lettuce because of the E. coli outbreak. What is E. coli and how do we avoid it? 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Phantom smells often linked to damaged nasal cavity
DEAR DOCTOR: Last year, for four months, I smelled cigarette smoke all the time -- even though I wasn't near smokers. The problem went away, but now it's back. I can be in bed, in my kitchen, at the grocery store, even church. I have been diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Is there a connection? If not, what's causing this?
Friday, June 1, 2018

Scientists still learning how fats are stored and metabolized
I hate dieting and have been putting off losing these last 12 pounds of baby weight. My husband says I should at least start exercising because it makes your fat healthier. Can this really be true?
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Using public restroom's hand dryer spreads bacteria around
Considering the recent news coverage of how hot-air hand dryers do little more than blow bacteria around, am I better off just wiping my hands on my pants when using a public restroom?
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Talk to your doctor before taking a statin with grapefruit juice
Years ago, I was told not to consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice with statins. Now I understand that this restriction no longer applies. Is this correct?
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Burning Mouth Syndrome necessitates a variety of treatments
After suffering from a metallic taste in my mouth for two years, I've been told by my doctor that I might be suffering from burning mouth syndrome. What can you tell me about this? I'm past menopause, take blood pressure medication, have had numerous X-rays and am pre-diabetic, all of which an internet search suggested might be factors.
Monday, May 28, 2018

Follow food safety protocols to avoid tapeworm infections
I read a few years ago that someone wound up with tapeworms after eating raw fish, and now it has apparently happened again. What's the deal?
Saturday, May 26, 2018

Rare, poorly understood disease leaves skin red, hot and painful
Will you please explain erythromelalgia? What can ease the pain other than pills? Why does it spread to my upper legs, and what makes it so crippling? And does it worsen with time?
Friday, May 25, 2018

'Demoralization Syndrome' often follows parkinson's diagnosis
My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year. One of the biggest challenges for our family has been how depressed he became. The antidepressants he takes don't seem to help at all, and my daughter says that's because he's actually demoralized, not depressed. What does this mean?
Thursday, May 24, 2018

Stick with tried and true meds to boost thyroid production
I have been taking levothyroxine for an underactive thyroid for about 40 years. I have progressed from 0.025 milligrams to 100 milligrams currently. I recently read an article indicating that long-term use of this drug increases the incidence of bone fractures by about 80 percent. I am 74 years old. What alternatives are available to treat this condition?
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Reader feedback encourages follow-up on BP guidelines
The change in seasons means fewer layers of clothes and more outdoor activities. With that in mind, we'd like to remind you to please use sunscreen, consider bug sprays to deal with the return of mosquitoes and ticks, and to ease into the return to physical activity to avoid injuries.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Increase in liver enzymes often linked to fatty liver disease
I recently had blood work done, and now my doctor says my liver enzymes are too high. How can I lower them? I have no symptoms, so I was surprised. I have never consumed alcoholic beverages, nor smoked. I am trying to lose some weight. I do frequently take ibuprofen for arthritis.
Monday, May 21, 2018

Make physical activity a family priority
Dear Doctor: My husband and I have a running battle with two of our three kids, who have zero interest in anything that isn't on a screen. They're 11 and 13, so rational arguments about their adult health don't work. Just how important is it for kids to get regular exercise? 
Saturday, May 19, 2018

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