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home : columns : ask the doctors May 15, 2021

Donating blood often leads to anemia diagnosis
DEAR DOCTOR: I am 75 years old, and I donate blood as often as they will accept me. However, I'm often anemic and get rejected. I eat a spinach salad every day, and fish, chicken or beef, plus veggies, for dinner. I've been double-dosing on iron supplements, but I'm still anemic. How concerned should I be?
Friday, May 14, 2021

Be sure to check for ticks to avoid disease
I read about a family whose little girl got paralyzed by a tick. How does that happen? There are a lot of ticks where we live, and even though we're careful, somebody gets bitten every summer. Is getting paralyzed something new we have to worry about?
Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Calcium supplement AlgaeCal can increase bone density
Hello, dear readers, and welcome back for our monthly letters column. Warmer weather is here, so please remember to use sun protection, fend off mosquitoes with bug spray and be aware of ticks as you head outdoors. And now, onward to your questions and comments.
Monday, May 10, 2021

Tightness and pain in leg could be due to IT band issues
I've been running during the lockdown, and about a month ago, my outer thigh started to feel like it's clenched up, and the outside of my knee hurts sometimes. My roommate says it's most likely that my IT band is too tight and needs to be stretched. What does that mean?
Friday, May 7, 2021

Asbestos exposure main cause of mesothelioma
It seems like every time I turn on the TV, there's a commercial that talks about mesothelioma. What is it, and how do people get it?
Wednesday, May 5, 2021

How to make the perfect first-aid kit
This year for the kids' summer vacation, we're renting a cabin up in the mountains. My question is, what kind of a first-aid kit should I put together? We will be there a week. We have three very busy boys, who are 8, 11 and 13, and a 4-year-old girl.
Monday, May 3, 2021

Fresh fruits and veggies greatly improve health
Friday, April 30, 2021

Bladder issues not limited to women
I'm a 52-year-old man, and I find that lately I have to urinate more often. My doctor says that it's overactive bladder. I thought that's something that happens to women. Why am I getting it? My doctor says it's not because of my prostate.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

If you're vaccinated, do you need to wear a mask?
I've had both doses of the Moderna vaccine, and my husband just got the Johnson & Johnson shot. Does this mean we can stop wearing masks? What does being vaccinated mean in terms of what we are safe to do now?
Monday, April 26, 2021

Huntington's disease is progressive, and inherited
My husband was recently diagnosed with Huntington's chorea. Is this the same thing as Huntington's disease? We would like to know what we can expect in the future with this condition. Are there any new treatments yet? What does this mean for our children?
Friday, April 23, 2021

Should exercise gain require pain?
In fitness circles, one often hears the saying, "No pain, no gain." But isn't pain the body's way of warning one to back off? Do you really need to push yourself to the point of pain for a good workout?
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Some lifestyle changes help prevent prostate cancers
I just had a scare with prostate cancer. The tests turned out negative, but it shook me up. Now I just want to make sure things stay that way. What should I be doing -- and what can my two sons do -- to reduce their risk? I'm 67, and they're in their mid-40s. 
Monday, April 19, 2021

For babies, back is best when it comes to sleep
DEAR DOCTOR: Our daughter is 5 months old, and we always put her to sleep on her back. Lately, when we check on her, she's on her stomach. Should we be keeping an eye out and positioning her on her back again when that happens?
Friday, April 16, 2021

More information about the coronavirus vaccines
Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to our monthly letters column. We're happy to hear that our recent focus on your questions regarding the coronavirus vaccines has been helpful. Keep sending them in, and we'll keep addressing them. Speaking of which:
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

"Prehab" helps patients prepare for surgery
A friend from work needs surgery for lung cancer. He was doing breathing exercises, which he said was part of prehab -- something I've never heard of. I don't want to bother him with questions, but am curious: What's prehab, and why would it be important?
Monday, April 12, 2021

World Almanac
Today is the 102nd day of 2021 and the 24th day of spring.
Monday, April 12, 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

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