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Columns

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Q. My grandmother told me she has BPPV and that it makes her head spin. What exactly is this BPPV?

BPPV stands for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It usually strikes when you change the position of your head.

We have to define terms first. Vertigo is the feeling that either you or your surroundings are spinning. It is more than being just lightheaded or dizzy, because you are subjected to the illusion of movement. If you feel your body is moving, you have subjective vertigo. When you sense that your surroundings are moving, you have objective vertigo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Q. I have a friend who is undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. I was wondering how this works. Doesn't the radiation burn everything it touches?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their genetic material. This process prevents the cells from growing. Radiation attacks all cells in a targeted area, but most healthy cells recover when treatment ends.

When you are given radiation therapy also called irradiation, radiotherapy or x-ray therapy physicians attempt to protect the good cells by shielding them. They also limit dosage and spread out the treatments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Q. I am petrified of spiders. Is my fear justified? Are they dangerous or just creepy?

Spiders are not aggressive. They bite you only in self-defense. Most bites by spiders are harmless. However, there are dangerous spiders. Spider bites are responsible for fewer than three deaths a year in the United States.

Spider bites have caused people to have limbs amputated. These victims refused to get medical remedies early and suffered from large wounds that became infected.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Q. I was racing down the cellar stairs a few days ago when I slipped and fell on my tailbone. I've had pain ever since. What should I do about it?

The coccyx or tailbone is made up of three to five vertebrae at the lower end of the spine. Most people have a coccyx of four of these spinal bones. The coccyx functions as an attachment site for muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Coccyx comes from the Greek word for cuckoo. The coccyx's shape is like the beak of a cuckoo. The human coccyx is considered a vestige of what was once a tail.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Q. What are the options for treating prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among American men.

Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.

There are many options for treating prostate cancer:

Ÿ Observation. If the cancer is growing slowly, you may decide to wait and watch.

Ÿ Hormone therapy. This stops cancer cells from growing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Q. I'm 74 years old. Are my organs too old to donate?

There are no cutoff ages for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from newborns and people older than 80. It is possible to donate a kidney, heart, liver, lung, pancreas, cornea, skin, bone, bone marrow and intestines.

While organs must be used between 6 and 72 hours after removal from a donor's body, tissues such as corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage can be preserved and stored for use later.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Q. I have Meniere's disease and I was wondering if you have any suggestions for what I should do during an attack.

Meniere's disease is an inner-ear disorder that produces a group of symptoms including vertigo, a spinning sensation that can lead to nausea and vomiting. Meniere's usually occurs in only one ear.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Q. I'm 68 years old and I want to know how much Vitamin D you need to be healthy.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has established Adequate Intake (AI) levels for vitamin D. The daily levels in International Units (IU) for everyone are as follows according to age:

Ÿ Under 50 - 200 IU

Ÿ From 50-70 - 400 IU

Ÿ Over 70 - 600 IU

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Q. What are the most common symptoms that you're having a stroke?

The most common stroke symptoms include: sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg usually on one side of the body; trouble talking or understanding; sudden blurred, double or decreased vision; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; a sudden headache with a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness; confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Q. My toe nails and leg hair don't seem to be growing as fast as they used to. Is this age-related or is it something else?

It could be caused by something harmless, but it is possible that it is a little-known symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If I were you, I'd go to a doctor for a checkup. (Cliche alert!) Better safe than sorry.

PAD also known as peripheral vascular disease usually strikes the legs, but also can affect the blood vessels to your head, arms, kidneys and stomach.