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home : columns : ask the doctors August 14, 2020

Whole-body approach can help with immune boost
I always seem to get sick when I start a job. Makes sense -- new people, new germs. I started a job in February, then we all had to work from home. I worry that being isolated for weeks puts me back at square one. What can I do to boost my immunity in preparation for going back to the office?
Friday, August 14, 2020


Use of alpha blockers can complicate cataract surgery
I am a 76-year-old man, very active and in fairly good health. I need cataract surgery, but I have learned that serious complications can occur with patients who are on Flomax, as I recently was. Can you explain? I'm at a loss as to what course of action I should follow.
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Not all masks are created equal
Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to our monthly letters column. We hope you're all doing as well as possible during these challenging times. We've received even more mail than usual, much of it -- no surprise -- virus-related. We'll address some of those questions here, and the rest in an extra letters column soon.
Monday, August 10, 2020

Buruli ulcer unlikely to hit the United States
Dear Doctor: I heard about a place in Australia where there's suddenly a whole bunch of cases of flesh-eating bacteria. What kind of bacteria is this? Can something like that happen here in the United States?
Friday, August 7, 2020

The best mask for kids is one they'll wear
Our city requires face masks now, and we're not sure what's the best kind for our kids. Our teen wears an adult mask, but we have a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old as well. Do you have any advice?
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Yoga can help kids connect to their bodies
What do you think about yoga for children? We're having trouble keeping three kids busy without their usual play dates and activities, and our 8-year-old has been saying that she wants to try doing yoga.
Monday, August 3, 2020

Theory suggests thymus plays role in severity of covid
What's the connection between the novel coronavirus and the thymus gland? A friend of ours who is a doctor says it's probably what keeps young kids from getting so sick. I've never even heard of the thymus. What does it have to do with coronavirus?
Friday, July 31, 2020

Wearing heels damages foot muscles
I'm 44 years old, and after wearing high heels to work for the last 20 years, I've lost flexibility in my feet. It also seems to be affecting my balance. Can you recommend foot exercises that can help?
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

COVID-19 antibody tests are not yet reliable
I had a coronavirus test, and it was negative. Then I had the antibody test, and I was surprised when it came back positive because I hadn't been sick. How do these coronavirus tests work? Are they accurate?
Monday, July 27, 2020

Lymphedema causes swelling and requires close monitoring
Dear Doctor: My 36-year-old son has recently been diagnosed with primary lymphedema. He has developed open wounds on both of his legs and is in a lot of pain. The condition limits his movement, and he has become depressed. Can you provide information about treatment, and where to seek it?
Friday, July 24, 2020

Find the cause of bloating through elimination diet
My husband and I ate more junk food than usual during the coronavirus lockdown, and we both gained a few pounds. We're trying for a healthier diet, with more fresh fruit and vegetables, but now I'm getting bloated after meals. What causes that? How can I make it stop?
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Spinal stenosis can be managed with minimal invasion
Dear Doctor: My wife is 77 and has spinal stenosis. She's often in pain. We read about a new procedure called "minimally invasive lumbar decompression," which we are hoping might help. She really wants to avoid surgery. What can you tell us about it?
Monday, July 20, 2020

Graves' disease causes hyperthyroidism
I saw my doctor because my heart was beating funny and I was losing weight even though I wasn't dieting. She did a blood test, and it turns out to be Graves' disease. Why did I get that? Is there a cure?
Friday, July 17, 2020

Sunscreen and insect repellent both have expiration dates
Let's start with a question regarding two essential tools of outdoor summer living -- sunscreen and insect repellent. A number of you have written to ask how long these products remain effective. It's true that most don't include an expiration date on the packaging. However, the Food and Drug Administration requires sunscreen to maintain its original efficacy for at least three years.
Monday, July 13, 2020

Lone star tick bites can cause red meat allergy
Dear Doctor: I got bitten by a tick, and my doctor said it might make me allergic to meat. That was a few months ago, and I can still eat a hamburger and not get sick. How long does it take for the allergy to start? Will it ever go away?
Friday, July 10, 2020

Hoarding disorder is not a sign of laziness
Dear Doctor: Our older sister has become a hoarder. The halls in her house are filling up with junk, and you can't even get into her kitchen anymore. My brother and I worry she's not safe. Why does a hoarding disorder happen? How do we help her?
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Eye tracking tests may help diagnose Alzheimer's disease
Dear Doctor: I've heard that there's finally a test for Alzheimer's disease, and that it has to do with your eyes. What is it, and how does it work?
Monday, July 6, 2020

World Almanac
Today is the 187th day of 2020 and the 16th day of summer.
Saturday, July 4, 2020

Many cancers require more than one kind of treatment
Friday, July 3, 2020

Silent heart attack more common in women
Dear Doctor: My wife just had her yearly checkup, and when her blood test results came back, she was told that she had recently suffered a heart attack. How can that be, since she never had any symptoms?
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Doctors recap what we know about Coronavirus
Would you please consider doing a recap about the coronavirus -- especially about how it spreads? There's a lot of information floating around, and it's getting hard to sort through the noise.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Good oral hygiene is important even in babies
Dear Doctor: Our daughter is only 4 years old, and she has had her first cavity already. What can we do to make sure that things go better at her next visit to the dentist, and for her new baby brother?
Friday, June 26, 2020

The only way for definitive diagnosis is biopsy
Dear Doctor: I'm 30 years old, and I have a lump in my breast, which imaging tests suggest is a fibroadenoma. I'm getting married in six months, and I am leaning toward having a biopsy so I won't worry during my wedding and honeymoon. With the COVID-19 pandemic, is it selfish of me to have the biopsy right now?
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hip bursitis can be caused by underuse
I never had hip problems, but after weeks of quarantine, the outsides of my hips ache and even wake me up when I am asleep. My doctor says it's bursitis, but I thought that's from when you exercise too much. I've hardly even been outside. How did this happen?
Monday, June 22, 2020

Prediabetes diagnosis should offer wake-up call
After my last physical, my doctor said my lab tests show I’ve got prediabetes. What does that mean? Do I or don’t I have diabetes?
Friday, June 19, 2020

Pulse oximetry measures oxygen saturation in blood
What is "pulse ox"? My sister keeps telling our mom and dad (they're 74 and 77) that they should be keeping keep track of it, especially right now. She hasn't been too good at explaining why, or even what it does, though. Can you help?
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It's the soap, not water temperature, that kills viruses
Hello, dear readers, and thank you for joining us for the continuation of our monthly letters column. We received so many questions related to the coronavirus and COVID-19 that we needed to address them.
Monday, June 15, 2020

Fitness trackers offer an abridged analysis of sleep patterns
DEAR DOCTORS: I understand how my fitness tracker counts my steps and measures my heart rate, but supposedly it can say how well I sleep. How can it do that, and is that sort of data even accurate?
Friday, June 12, 2020

Reader queries cover a range of topics
Hello again, dear readers! You've kept our digital and postal mailboxes even more full than usual with your questions, thoughts and (thank you!) kind words. Not surprisingly, much of the discussion focused on COVID-19. To help with the volume of mail, we'll have a separate column with your virus-related questions next week. And now, onward to the more general discussion.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Pediatric syndrome may be linked to Coronavirus
What can you tell me about Kawasaki disease? I read that children who had COVID-19 are getting it. But I thought children were supposedly safe from the virus. Why has that changed?
Monday, June 8, 2020

Retinal artery occlusion related to atherosclerosis
A friend of our family suddenly lost the vision in his left eye because of something called retinal artery occlusion. What is that? How do you protect against it?
Friday, June 5, 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








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