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home : columns : ask the doctors June 4, 2020

Gastroparesis treated primarily with diet
My husband started having a lot of stomach pain and was also feeling queasy. Needless to say, I feared the worst -- cancer -- but, instead, his doctor says it's gastroparesis. Is it dangerous? What's the best treatment?
Wednesday, June 3, 2020


New COVID-19 symptoms discovered as pandemic continues
Every time I turn on the news and hear about the coronavirus, the symptoms keep changing. Why is that? How do we even know when we should go see a doctor? 
Monday, June 1, 2020

Passing gas is a fact of life
Dear Doctor: I'm 102 years old and a World War II veteran. My problem is that I pass a lot of gas. Several days ago, I had an apple and a small piece of sweet potato, and I stunk up the whole house. I had to open all of the windows and doors. Do you have any suggestions?
Friday, May 29, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 149th day of 2020 and the 71st day of spring.
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dropped bladder has different levels of severity
I'm a 75-year-old woman and have been diagnosed with a dropped bladder due to a hysterectomy in my mid-40s. I have discomfort, particularly when I walk a long distance or do heavy lifting; some leakage problems; and frequently have UTIs. What can be done?
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chondrocalcinosis causes goutlike pain in joints
I was recently diagnosed with chondrocalcinosis, which is quite painful. I know it's similar to gout, though it is due to calcium crystals rather than urea. What treatments can help with pain? I don't want to have a second knee replacement.
Monday, May 25, 2020

Hernias often need surgery to correct
If you've got an abdominal hernia and it doesn't bother you, can you just leave it alone? How is it treated? I've read about using mesh, but apparently some of them have turned out to be defective.
Friday, May 22, 2020

Radiation therapy can cause damage to surrounding tissues
A close relative had extensive radiation therapy for an early breast cancer. The treatment was effective, but it damaged the surrounding tissues, including her aortic valve. What are the potential side effects of radiation therapy?
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Vasectomy is an easy outpatient procedure
After three planned children and one unexpected (but much-loved) arrival, my wife and I think a vasectomy is a good idea. What will happen? How permanent is a vasectomy?
Monday, May 18, 2020

Atrial fibrillation diagnosis requires cardiologist's care
Dear Doctor: Our mom is 66 years old and has always been healthy. She was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation during her last physical. She says she feels fine, so she hasn't followed up with her doctor. What can happen if she doesn't get treatment?
Friday, May 15, 2020

How-tos of wearing a mask
Our city has asked us to wear a face mask when we leave the house. Needless to say, my wife and I have never done this before. Does our 5-year-old son need a mask, too? Any guidance or how-tos would be greatly appreciated.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Most food still ok past sell-by date
Hello again, dear readers, and thank you for joining us for this month's letters column. It's a difficult and challenging time, and we're more grateful than ever for the community that has sprung up in response to Ask the Doctors.
Monday, May 11, 2020

Coronavirus antibodies used in two new ways
I heard on the news about a coronavirus medicine made with blood from people who were sick and got better. But my husband says it's actually a blood test to see if someone ever had the virus. Who's right?
Friday, May 8, 2020

Different kinds of heart murmurs require different treatments
My 7-year-old niece has been diagnosed with a heart murmur, and my brother says she won't be receiving any kind of treatment. What is a heart murmur? Will it interfere with the activities she loves, like soccer and softball?
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Every home needs a personalized first-aid kit
Now that it's harder see a doctor or go to the emergency room, I want to beef up our first-aid kit. What should we have on hand?
Monday, May 4, 2020

Restless leg syndrome leads to more than interrupted sleep
Dear Doctor: I wonder if you could help me with a problem that robs me of sleep, and which lately even persists during the day. I'm referring to restless leg syndrome. What causes it? Are there any new findings about getting relief?
Friday, May 1, 2020

Introducing the concept of a younger sibling can be fun
Our son will be 3 years old when his baby sister arrives this fall. What can my husband and I do to help him understand the changes that are on the way?
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Asthma action plan crucial for those with the disease
Our 8-year-old grandson is coming from Atlanta to spend the summer with us in Idaho. He has asthma, and our daughter has mentioned that my husband and I have to become familiar with his "asthma action plan." What is that? How should we prepare?
Friday, April 24, 2020

Several options for osteoporosis treatment
I just read your column about bone density tests and want to know your thoughts on medications for osteoporosis. Is it better to take calcium and vitamin D and engage in exercise or to risk the medications' side effects?
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

No saliva test for Parkinson's disease, research is promising
What can you tell me about the new saliva test for Parkinson's disease? My older sister just learned she might have Parkinson's, but her doctors aren't sure. Why is it so hard to diagnose?
Monday, April 20, 2020

Perimenopause can last months to years
Dear Doctor: I'm a healthy and active 42-year-old, but I've been noticing a change in my periods lately. They're not as regular as before, and they're a lot shorter. Could this be perimenopause? What's going on, and what else is going to happen?
Friday, April 17, 2020

Keep washing your hands!
Several of you wrote about the frustration of seeing someone exit a public restroom without washing his or her hands.
Monday, April 13, 2020

Persistent hiccups could be indication of something serious
My husband frequently has hiccups, and sometimes they last for days. What causes them? Is there any way to make them stop?
Friday, April 10, 2020

Occasional naps linked to decreased heart disease and stroke
I take a short nap at my desk a couple of times a week (I use earplugs and a mask), which my podmates love to tease me about. I just read that napping is good for your heart, but they say if you take a nap during the day, you won't sleep as well at night. Who's right?
Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What are viruses, and how do they work?
Everybody is talking about the coronavirus right now, but I still don't really know what a virus is. How do they work? Why don't antibiotics kill them?
Monday, April 6, 2020

Quitting sugar is a challenge that requires awareness
Dear Doctor: I'm stalled on my resolution to quit eating sugar. Why is it so hard? I just can't seem to stop saying yes to sweets, especially my favorites -- cookies and candy bars. Do you have any suggestions?
Friday, April 3, 2020

Study links overtime to masked hypertension
Dear Doctor: I heard about a study that says working overtime gives you high blood pressure. My husband just joined a competitive company, and he's expected to work a lot of extra hours. He's already a Type A kind of guy, and I'm worried.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Keeping your hands clean best way to stay healthy
Why do you have to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds? Are they not getting clean if you've only got cold water? And why is 20 seconds the magic number? What about hand sanitizers?
Monday, March 30, 2020

Hip replacement surgery should be last resort
How do I know if I need a hip replacement? My right hip gets so stiff after I've been sitting at work for a few hours that I can hardly walk, and then it aches for the rest of the day and night.
Friday, March 27, 2020

Not everyone with lung cancer will get a cough
Our sister saw her doctor because her chest felt "heavy," and he found fluid in her lung. Further tests showed lung cancer, which had already spread. She never coughed, and she quit smoking years ago. What are some of the symptoms of lung cancer?
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Older adults still need regular exercise
Our dad is 78 years old, and he has started spending a lot more time indoors and on his recliner. He's in good health, but he says he's getting too old for exercise to matter. What can we say to persuade him to become active again?
Monday, March 23, 2020

Don't resist resistant starches
Dear Doctor: I keep reading about something called "resistant starch." People are saying I should get it into my diet. Why is it so important? How much do I need?
Friday, March 20, 2020

Lower back pain could be helped with Alexander technique
I've had lower back pain for years, and nothing has helped. I've tried physical therapy, yoga and chiropractors, and I've even contemplated surgery. My sister suggests something called the Alexander technique. What do you think? I'm willing to try anything, but I don't want to chase after treatments that aren't useful.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Members of the sandwich generation must avoid burnout
I'm worried about my best friend. She seems overwhelmed taking care of her elderly parents as well as her own family, but she won't admit it. How do I know if she's in trouble?
Monday, March 16, 2020

Limited mobility shouldn't stop people from adopting pets
Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to our monthly letters column. We're happy to report that you've kept our mailboxes full, so we'll dive right in.
Friday, March 13, 2020

Using correct terminology decreases confusion
Would you please explain the terms we keep hearing in news reports about that new virus, like "epidemic" and "outbreak" and "pandemic"? It seems like they're being used interchangeably, and it makes it hard to understand what's really going on.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

COPD most often associated with smoking
I'm 66 years old, and I seem to be of an age at which the people I know are being diagnosed with COPD. I've heard it mentioned in TV ads, but I still don't really understand what it is. Who gets COPD? Is there a cure?
Monday, March 9, 2020







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