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home : columns : ask the doctors April 10, 2021

Doctors debate benefits and detriments of fevers
I'm confused about fever. What is considered a fever? And if fever is the result of a person's body fighting a disease, why is it bad for us? It seems to make no sense to treat a person by lowering their fever.
Friday, April 9, 2021


Watery stool can still occur after gall bladder surgery
My daughter had her gall bladder removed, and two months later she's still suffering from watery diarrhea. She even had to be hospitalized to restore her fluids. What does your gall bladder do? Are there lifestyle or dietary adjustments that could help?
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

CVI not life- threatening, can cause complications
I was recently diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency in both legs. What is it, and why does it happen? What does it mean for my health?
Monday, April 5, 2021

Diet and exercise can help with arthritis
DEAR DOCTOR: I am 67 years old, with arthritis in my hands and feet. My daughter recently had a fall, and X-rays showed signs of arthritis in her foot. She's only 34. What are the most important things she can do to keep it from progressing, or at least slow it down?
Friday, April 2, 2021

Skin care is for more than beauty
I heard two teenagers in line at the drug store talking about the skin microbiome and how you shouldn't use soap on your face because it wipes out the good bacteria. We hear a lot about the gut microbiome lately, but is the skin microbiome really even a thing?
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Trigeminal neuralgia is painful but rare
I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia a few months ago, which I had never heard of before. I have learned that successful treatment can vary from patient to patient. Can you address this disease in your column?
Monday, March 29, 2021

Whether TMD or Trismus, jaw trouble needs attention
I had trouble opening my mouth wide when I was getting my teeth cleaned, and the hygienist said it could be TMJ. But my sister, who is a chiropractor, says she thinks it's a muscle spasm. What is TMJ, anyway?
Friday, March 26, 2021

Diet can make a difference in age-related thinning hair
My hair has been thin since I was young, and now that I'm growing older, it's getting worse. Why is that happening? Is there anything I can add to my diet to make my hair thicker and healthier, or is thinner hair inevitable with aging?
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

More information about the COVID-19 vaccines
I am 53 and have diabetes. I live in California and can get the COVID-19 vaccination soon. What side effects can I expect? There are so many stories floating around, and knowing what to believe is hard.
Monday, March 22, 2021

Patients should continue taking blood thinners with vaccine
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to part two of our letters column about the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to get questions about this topic and, because it's so important, will continue to address them as quickly as possible.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Using nasal antiseptic kills bacteria, not viruses
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to our monthly letters column. Virtually all of the mail we received in the last month concerned the coronavirus vaccine. In fact, we heard from so many of you, we need two columns to cover it all. Onward to part one:
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ocular melanoma is very rare and aggressive cancer
Our neighbor was diagnosed with cancer in his right eye. It's called ocular melanoma. I don't want to bother him or his wife with a lot of questions, but I'd like to know more about the disease. Can you explain about risk factors and symptoms? How common is it? I thought melanoma was a skin cancer.
Monday, March 15, 2021

Daylight saving time causes sleep disruption
I hate switching to and from daylight saving time every year. My husband says it's just a nuisance, but it messes up my sleep, and I think it's affecting my health. Haven't there been some studies about that? We're both interested in your answer.
Friday, March 12, 2021

Flu numbers much lower than in years past
I have a question I'm sure is on the minds of others, as well -- where is the flu this year? All we are hearing about is COVID-19. Did the flu vaccine they gave work that well? Is no one getting the flu anymore?
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Keeping an eye on food could help with psoriasis
I'm 27 years old and have itchy skin that my doctor says is psoriasis. It's not all the time -- it comes and goes. Sometimes it's bad, and other times it's not that noticeable. I've heard that what you eat matters. Can my diet help prevent or control the condition?
Monday, March 8, 2021

Aortic regurgitation often symptom-free when mild
DEAR DOCTOR: I am a 72-year-old man and have been diagnosed with aortic regurgitation. My cardiologist said since I'm not experiencing any of the usual symptoms connected with this, he thinks I should just continue to monitor it until I do. What can I expect if and when I do start experiencing symptoms?
Friday, March 5, 2021

World Almanac
Today is the 62nd day of 2021 and the 73rd day of winter.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Lupus treatment often requires many medications
My daughter got a rash across her cheeks that we thought was an allergy. A year later, she was diagnosed with lupus. She's only 17, and the doctors keep putting her on different meds, which worries her dad and me. I've been reading that ginger can be helpful. What do you think?
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Aortic Regurgitation often symptom-free when mild
I am a 72-year-old man and have been diagnosed with aortic regurgitation. My cardiologist said since I'm not experiencing any of the usual symptoms connected with this, he thinks I should just continue to monitor it until I do. What can I expect if and when I do start experiencing symptoms?
Monday, March 1, 2021

Initial studies link added sugar and IBD
I am 32 years old, and I just learned I have IBD. My doctor thinks the fact that in my family we eat a lot of sweets has something to do with it. I'm not the only one with stomach issues, but I figured since it runs in the family, it is genetic. Do you think it could really be from too much sugar?
Friday, February 26, 2021

Transient global amnesia is scary, usually not dangerous
My husband is 68 years old and recently had an episode of memory loss. He suddenly didn't know where he was. It lasted for about two hours and was very scary. Our son, who is a nurse, says maybe it was transient global amnesia. Can you please tell us something about that?
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine uses different technology than flu shot
Is a COVID-19 vaccine the same as a flu shot? I had a violent reaction to a flu shot in 1976 that continues to have an effect in my body today, and I am 74 years old. I want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but I fear another severe reaction.
Monday, February 22, 2021

Rare cramp-fasciculation syndrome has little research
Dear Doctor: I am a 79-year-old woman, and I have in the past had night cramps that went away when I stamped my foot. When it got worse, including a burning sensation, a muscle relaxant helped. It's back again, and my neurologist says I have cramp-fasciculation syndrome. What is that?
Friday, February 19, 2021

Panic attack sufferers should see doctor
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to the monthly letters column. Thank you to everyone who wrote to let us know these columns, and the tips and thoughts from fellow readers, have been helpful. It means a lot to us. And now, onward.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Coffee may help reduce risk for heart failure in some people
Drinking one or more cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of heart failure, according to new research. But only if it's caffeinated.

The analysis of data from three large, well-known heart disease trials was published Tuesday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure. It found the more coffee people drank, the lower their risk for heart failure. But that benefit didn't extend to people who drank decaf.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Increasing plant-rich foods brings healthy benefits
In our family, some of us have gained weight in quarantine. I've been thinking this might be a good time to try a more plant-based diet. It's supposed to be better for you physically, and I want to know if that's true. We are meat-eaters and aren't interested in going vegan.
Monday, February 15, 2021

Gut microbiome makeup could impact severity of COVID-19
I heard on the news that if your gut isn't in good shape, you'll probably get a worse case of COVID-19. Is that really true?
Friday, February 12, 2021

Short-burst workouts good in well-rounded workout plan
Our dad retired last spring, and since he's been home, he hasn't been getting much exercise. Our mom is getting worried about his health. I just read that working out for just 11 minutes a day makes a difference. Is that really true
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Bronchiectasis usually the result of damage to airways
I am 72 years old and have bronchiectasis, which I understand is a form of COPD. Can you give me some more information about it? I've never been in a smoking environment, but I was raised in a home that used coal and wood for heat.
Monday, February 8, 2021

Best to get calcium from diet, not supplements
DEAR DOCTOR: Last fall at my annual checkup, my doctor ordered a bone density test. Besides talking to me about osteoporosis in general, she also suggested calcium supplements. I wonder if you have any advice about which supplements are best, and also about maintaining bone health.
Friday, February 5, 2021

Both probiotics and prebiotics key to healthy gut
My big New Year's resolution was to get my gut into better shape. I'm not talking about a flat stomach -- after having three kids, that ship has sailed -- but about the gut microbiome. Do I need to take probiotics? 
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Grief can cause not just psychological pain
Is it true that grief can make you get physically sick? My mom passed away just before Thanksgiving, and I've been struggling with my health. I'm having headaches, I've had an eczema flare and I caught the first cold I've had in three years.
Monday, February 1, 2021

Eyelash mites are normal part of body's microbiome
I would appreciate if you would talk a bit about eyelash mites. What are they, and how does someone get them? What is the best treatment to get rid of them?
Thursday, January 28, 2021

Positive resolutions much easier to keep
I saw on the news that there's a new study about how to make a successful New Year's resolution. My wife and I have the same list of resolutions every year, including to stop eating so much junk food and to quit sugar. And around this time every year, we give up on them. We would love to know why it's hard to follow through.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Long-haul COVID-19 similar to post-polio syndrome
Your column about long-haul COVID-19 started a conversation at our house about why some viruses will keep getting you sick even after you've recovered. A friend of our family is having a hard time with something called post-polio syndrome. Is that the same kind of thing?
Monday, January 25, 2021

Magnesium is an essential mineral, may help with RLS
Hello, again, dear readers. We're back with the second of our two bonus letters columns. Let's dive right in.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Eat your carrots for potential help with prostate health
Hello, dear readers, and welcome to an extension of our monthly letters column. Our main letters column this month was devoted to your questions about the new coronavirus vaccine -- an important topic that needed immediate attention. So we're back with parts one and two of a bonus edition to help catch up with your more general questions. Onward to part one!
Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Age spots are result of too much sun exposure
I'm a 60-year-old woman with naturally fair skin. I've worked outdoors all of my life -- and now I have the age spots on my face to prove it. Why do they happen? Are there any creams from the drugstore that might help to fade them?
Monday, January 18, 2021

New vaccine technology aided in speedy development
I don't think I'm the only one wondering how the new coronavirus vaccines got developed so fast when other vaccines in the past took so much longer. Can you please explain?
Friday, January 15, 2021

Exercise can help with progression of MCI
Our dad is 67 years old and just got a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. His doctor told us that getting regular exercise can help. I've never heard this before. Is there a scientific basis, or is the idea just for dad to stay healthy?
Wednesday, January 13, 2021

It's prudent to separate different vaccinations
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to the first winter edition of our monthly letters column. To those of you who have been sending us questions via the U.S. mail, we're happy to report that those letters have finally been retrieved. We'll begin answering soon. But first, we want to address some of the questions we're getting regarding the coronavirus vaccine.
Monday, January 11, 2021






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