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home : columns : ask the doctors February 20, 2019

Readers comment about 'hanger' and question sugar's role in mood
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to our next installment of your letters! You've kept our inboxes full with questions, comments and even some compliments (thank you!), so let's dive in.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Most cases of Scoliosis have no root cause
Can you please explain scoliosis? My 11-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with it, and though it's mild, we're very worried. Why did she get it? Will she need surgery?
Monday, February 18, 2019

Minimize infection risk by not ingesting raw oysters
My wife and I love raw oysters. Whenever they're on the menu, we always order a dozen or even two. But I recently read that someone died from some kind of bacterial infection after eating them. Just how risky are they?
Friday, February 15, 2019

Study shows influenza linked to increased heart attack risk
Last year, my best friend, who was home in bed with a bad case of the flu, died of a heart attack. He was fit, strong and relatively young -- only 42 years old -- and his death was a shock. But now research suggests having the flu actually increases the risk of a heart attack. Can we protect ourselves?
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The best way to treat a toddler with the common cold
Our youngest daughter caught a cold over the holidays and was pretty miserable. She had just turned 2, so we didn't want to give her cough or cold medicines, but we did want to help her feel better. What could we have done? Would honey have helped?
Monday, February 11, 2019

Prescription drug Tianeptine can have addictive properties
Dear Doctor: What can you tell me about tianeptine, which a friend is buying online? All I know is that it's an antidepressant that people are taking instead of opioids.
Friday, February 8, 2019

Study reveals how sugars wipe out important bacteria in gut
My cousin says she heard that eating sugar pretty much wipes out the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Please tell me that's not true. I'm an avid baker and love sweets and don't think that I can give them up.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rare STD causes inflammation of urethra
My boyfriend and I were in London over the holidays, and we heard a lot about MG, a new sexually transmitted disease. Is it here in the United States too? Should I be worried?
Monday, February 4, 2019

Adequate amount of vitamin D is essential to good health
Why is it that vitamin D is so important? I know you can get it from food and supplements, but I'd like to get it the old-fashioned way -- from the sun. Is that too dangerous?
Friday, February 1, 2019

FDA recalls numerous blood pressure drugs
I've been taking a drug for blood pressure issues for a couple of years, but now I hear it's being recalled. What's the risk? Should I stop taking it?
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Man's rare infection caused by dog saliva
My wife read that a man had his legs amputated after he got an infection from being licked by his dog, and now she's freaking out. She's afraid to even touch our dog anymore, lest it somehow get saliva on her. Please talk some sense into her.
Monday, January 28, 2019

Readers check in with questions about vaccines and cookie dough
Hello again, dear readers! We hope that amid the rush (and, let's face it, occasional stress) of the holidays, you were able to enjoy the season. We thank you for making the time to keep our mailboxes full. We will get right down to business.
Friday, January 25, 2019

Study suggests full-fat milk may not be bad for your heart
I just read that full-fat milk isn't actually bad for you, and that it may even reduce the risk of stroke. That's just so different from what we've been taught. What's the deal?
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Parents concerned about pregnant daughter's possible depression
My daughter is 16 weeks pregnant with her second child. Her father and I can tell that she's really feeling down, even though she's been trying to hide it. I thought that women get the baby blues after giving birth, not during pregnancy. Is there anything I can do to help her?
Monday, January 21, 2019

Woman's blood pressure drops significantly after meals
I am an 86-year-old female, and sometimes, about an hour after eating a meal, my blood pressure drops significantly, from a normal of 123/74 to as low as 93/47. When it happens, my lips tingle and get dry, and I feel "zonked" out, like I'm in some kind of a trance. What causes this? What can I do?
Friday, January 18, 2019

Oral immunotherapy shows promise in treating peanut allergies
My 5-year-old nephew has a severe peanut allergy. It's so bad that he can't risk eating anything that isn't prepared by the family. Even the highly supervised snack time at school isn't safe. Now I've read about a new peanut allergy drug that is an oral immunotherapy. How does it work? Do you think it could help him?
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Runner's Asthma triggered by noticeable exertion
I've noticed that after running, especially when I've really pushed myself, I'll cough for a while. A friend says it's something called exercise-induced asthma. Why is it happening?
Monday, January 14, 2019

E. Coli outbreaks can be caused by contaminated irrigation water
Dear Doctor: It seems like every time we turn on the TV there's another recall of romaine lettuce because of another outbreak of E. coli. What's the deal? How dangerous is it if I get infected?
Friday, January 11, 2019

Study reveals possible link between herpes virus and Alzheimer's
Pretty much everyone I know gets cold sores from time to time. Now I see a study saying that cold sores are somehow connected to Alzheimer's. Can you explain?
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Chickenpox can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems
I recently read that more than 30 students at a school in North Carolina all got chickenpox during an outbreak. Growing up, I got chickenpox, too, before there was a vaccine. Is the vaccine really that necessary for kids? Like I said, I got chickenpox as a kid and turned out fine!
Monday, January 7, 2019

Woman's cancer accidentally discovered on television show
I read that a doctor knew that a woman had thyroid cancer just by seeing her neck on TV. Why was a visual diagnosis so easy? What happens next?
Friday, January 4, 2019

Rising rates of STDs among young people cause for concern
My son and daughter are now 17 and 19, and my sister, who worries about everything, keeps telling me that STDs in teens are on the rise. Is this really true? If so, is there anything I can say to my kids? You know how teens are; will they even listen?
Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tracking blood sugar not necessary for non-diabetics
DEAR DOCTOR: My family has a history of diabetes, and although I'm currently healthy (I exercise regularly and am careful about what I eat), I'm still curious about my blood sugar. Do you think it could be helpful to track it as a diabetic would, just so that I know how I'm doing?
Monday, December 31, 2018

Body mass index readings can be misleading for athletes, others
Dear Doctor: I'm not thin by any means, but I'm not obese either. I lift weights three to four times a week, run about 10 miles a week, play soccer and regularly do half-marathons. Now a new study says that because my BMI is 26, there's no way I can be fit and healthy. Is this true?
Friday, December 28, 2018

Restrictive eating plan based on when you eat
Dear Doctor: I want to lose 15 pounds but have had no luck cutting calories or carbs, or even trying that crazy (IMHO) keto diet where you eat mostly fat. What about that new diet where you only eat during certain hours? How does it work?
Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mice study reveals mushrooms' link to lower glucose levels
: Can white button mushrooms help control my blood glucose? I saw some headlines about this a while back, but it sounds like a correlation to me -- not a clear cause and effect. Maybe it's just that people who eat more mushrooms also eat less junk food?
Monday, December 24, 2018

High-dose flu vaccine shown to be more effective in older adults
My husband and I have two teenagers, and we also take care of my 80-year-old mother. The kids and my husband and I all got our regular flu shots, but I just read about a new flu shot that's for people who are over 65. Why do older people need a different flu vaccine? Does it really work?
Friday, December 21, 2018

Taking a break from exercise may be detrimental to your health
I'm 35 years old and a regular exerciser. Sometimes, though, when I'm on vacation or just want to veg out, I need a break. Now I'm hearing that this is really bad for your metabolism, especially as you get older. Seriously? Taking a couple of weeks off really makes that much difference?
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Delayed sleep cycle linked to range of health problems
My mother and my sister are both night owls who stay up late and sleep late the next morning. In our family we never thought anything of it. But now it turns out their sleeping habits are something called "delayed sleep phase disorder." Why is being a night owl considered to be a disorder? Can it be cured?
Monday, December 17, 2018

Recent studies call into question use of low-dose aspirin
DEAR DOCTOR: Our dad had a mild stroke about a year ago and has been taking daily low-dose aspirin ever since. But I just heard about a new study that says this kind of therapy isn't actually helpful and might even be dangerous. Is this true? Should he stop? I'm confused!
Friday, December 14, 2018

Pancreatic cancer's location makes it difficult to diagnose
Is there a cure for pancreatic cancer? Does anyone know what causes it? Does eating raw steak cause it? Or smoking?
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Readers ask about melatonin, cherry complex and sodium intake
Hello, dear readers! Once again, you've filled our overflowing mailbox with questions, concerns and some kind words (thank you, as always, for those), so let's get right to business:
Monday, December 10, 2018

Woman asks whether her strenuous workout routine is too intense
I wonder, as a 67-year-old woman, whether my workout routine would be considered too strenuous? I walk six miles and use weight machines five days a week, and do an hour each of yoga, Zumba, cardio and stretching each week. This routine has helped me lose 27 pounds and get off of blood pressure medicine. Do you think I need to slow down?
Friday, December 7, 2018

Study finds tall people more likely to develop blood clots
Our uncle, who is 44, recently got diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg, and it was a medical emergency. Our mom (she's his older sister) is a nurse and says that because he's so tall -- 6-foot-4 -- his risk is higher. Is that really true? I thought that it depended more on weight than height.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Researchers studying how gut microbiome affects cancer treatment
I read that microbes can affect how our body deals with immunotherapy. A friend of mine is about to start immunotherapy for lung cancer. Is there anything she can do to increase the chances that her gut will help her body beat this cancer?
Monday, December 3, 2018

Reader asks whether blood type should dictate diet choices
Does eating for one's blood type really work? For my own blood type, I am supposed to avoid foods like avocados, bananas, strawberries and many other foods that I would consider healthy choices. I certainly don't want to feel guilty for eating foods that this plan suggests avoiding. What is your take on this?
Friday, November 30, 2018

Indulge in 'cheat' foods, but only in moderation
We're often told we can consume alcohol, sweets, or burgers and fries "in moderation." My sister and I had a conversation about that sort of recommendation just the other day. What does moderation actually mean? Is it one beer a day? One burger a month? Ten french fries once a week?
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Updated blood pressure guidelines leave some seniors perplexed
What is considered a normal blood pressure for a person in their late 70s? My doctor said it should be in area of 120/80. But I have read that older persons' pressure may be higher -- closer to 140/90 -- and that pressure would not be dangerous. Am I the only one confused by the new blood pressure guidelines?
Monday, November 26, 2018

Woman concerned about mistaking anxiety attack for a stroke
Dear Doctor: I've been on blood pressure medication for 20 years and am now going through menopause. For me, this includes anxiety attacks. Symptoms of stroke and anxiety attacks seem pretty similar. How can I know for sure if I'm having a stroke versus an anxiety attack?
Friday, November 23, 2018

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