Thursday, July 10, 2014
     

Columns

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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

(This is the second of two columns on shoulder problems.)

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the collarbone, the shoulder blade and the upper arm bone. The shoulder is the body's most movable joint. It is also unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it.

The unstable shoulder is held in place by soft tissue: muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Q. You can settle a bet for me. Who gets shoulder problems more often, athletes or seniors?

Athletes such as pitchers, tennis players and swimmers are especially susceptible to shoulder problems because of their repetitive overhead motions. However, shoulder problems are most likely to victimize people older than 60. You can deduce that, as a group, old athletes are at the highest risk of shoulder injury.

(Shoulder problems are so common among seniors that I am doing a two-parter on the subject. This is the first column.)

Let's start with some anatomy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Q. What is a taste disorder?

There are several types of taste disorders. You can have a persistent bad taste in the mouth. This is called a dysgeusia. Some people have hypogeusia, or the reduced ability to taste. Others can't detect taste at all, which is called ageusia. People with taste disorders experience a specific ageusia of one or more of the five taste categories: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory.

The most common complaint is "phantom taste perception," which is tasting something that isn't there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Q. My 4-year-old grandson has begun to stutter. It upsets me and I don't know how to handle it.

It should be reassuring to you to know that about 5 percent of children stutter for a period of about six months. Three-quarters of these children recover before they mature. About 1 percent of adults stutter.

Meanwhile, knowing how to talk to your grandson will help both of you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

(This is the second of two columns on the benefits of sunlight.)

Most public health messages have focused on the hazards of too much sun exposure. But there is some sunny news about the sun.

Sunlight increases the body's vitamin D supply. In seniors, vitamin D protects against osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become increasingly brittle. Vitamin D also protects against cancer, heart disease and other maladies.

But there are other benefits of a daily dose of sunlight.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Q. All I ever hear about the sun is how dangerous it is. But, when I was a kid, my mother used to tell me to get out in the sun and play. Did my mother give me bad advice?

(I've devoted a lot of space to the dangers of sun exposure. I believe I owe the sun a couple of columns to make up for this. Here's the first one.)

Most public health messages have focused on the hazards of too much sun exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, an invisible component of sunlight, can cause skin damage, cataracts, wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Q. What is white coat syndrome?

If you suffer from white coat syndrome, your blood pressure jumps as soon as a doctor or nurse approaches you. If your doctor knows this, he or she may recommend a home blood-pressure monitor or ambulatory monitor that is worn around the clock and takes your pressure every half-hour.

Blood pressure tends to spike when you are excited by an emotion such as anger or fear. But high blood pressure known as hypertension is very sneaky. It's called the silent killer, because it usually has no symptoms.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Q. Can you get rid of warts with duct tape?

For starters, check with your doctor before beginning any self-treatment for warts. You might mistake another kind of skin growth for a wart and hurt yourself.

The jury is still out on duct-tape therapy for warts. A recent study showed that duct tape wiped out more warts than conventional freezing did. In this study, warts were covered with duct tape for six days. Then, the warts were soaked in warm water and rubbed with an abrasive such as pumice stone. The treatment was repeated for as long as two months.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Q. Does the plague still exist?

In the 1300s, the Black Death, as plague was called, killed about one-third of the people in Europe. A combination of antibiotics and improved living conditions have made plague rare today.

Plague is found throughout the world, except for Australia. The greatest number of human infections occurs in African countries. However, the largest numbers of infected animals is in the United States and the former Soviet Union.