Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Healthy Geezer

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Q. I seem to get more cavities in my teeth as I get older. Is this another part of the aging process?

Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by plaque, a layer of bacteria. This plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of older people. In addition, seniors have a greater tendency to get decay around older fillings. And we have more fillings than younger people because we didn't all grow up with fluoride.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Q. I've been getting bruises lately and I can't remember hurting myself. Should I see a doctor?

A tendency to bruise easily is common when you age. It's especially common among women.

A bruise also known as a contusion occurs when the tiny blood vessels under your skin break after being struck.

When you bruise, the blood leaks under the skin and leaves a black-and-blue mark. The harder the impact, the bigger the bruise.

As the blood is reabsorbed by your body, the bruise goes away.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Q. Do people who are colorblind see everything in black and white?

"Colorblindness" is the common term used to describe color vision deficiency. The term is misleading, because total colorblindness that turns the world into shades of gray is rare.

The most common type of colorblindness makes it difficult for people to discriminate between red and green. The next most common form of the deficiency affects the perception of blues and yellows. Those with blue-yellow blindness almost always have red-green blindness, too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Q. What exactly is a "charley horse" and why do I get them in my legs at night?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the term "charley horse" was first used in the 1880s by baseball players to describe a muscle cramp.

No one knows the true origin, but the dictionary says: "Among the more likely theories proposed is that it alludes to the name of either a horse or an afflicted ballplayer who limped like one of the elderly draft horses formerly employed to drag the infield."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Q. I had a bad cold so I asked my doctor for an antibiotic. He seemed reluctant, but I insisted and he gave me the prescription. I was supposed to take it for 10 days, but I stopped after seven because I felt better and I ...

Stop! Next you'll tell me you prefer not to cover your mouth when you cough.

Taking antibiotics unnecessarily and not completing your prescription are the leading causes of "superbugs," bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These superbugs are one of the most serious threats to global public health.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Q. What's the difference between a CT scan and an MRI?

The CT scan, MRI and others are known as diagnostic-imaging tests.

Let's go over the common ones.


One of the oldest forms of medical imaging, an X-ray examination uses electromagnetic radiation to make pictures.

An X-ray machine passes a beam through your body and records an image digitally or on film. Body tissues produce different results. Tissues show up in shades of gray. Bones look white. Lungs that contain air appear dark.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Q. My doctor put his stethoscope on my neck and muttered to himself, "no brooey." I'm not the type to ask the doctor questions, but I'm still wondering what he meant by that. My spelling is probably wrong.

Your doctor was checking your carotid arteries on the sides of your neck to see if the blood flow to your brain was blocked. If one of the arteries was blocked, it would make a "swoosh" that the medical profession calls a bruit. Your phonetic spelling is excellent. Bruit is pronounced "BROO-ee" like "phooey."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Q. I had a bird's nest in my chimney and was told that we were probably getting some carbon monoxide in the house. He said that this is bad for your health. How bad?

Carbon monoxide (chemical symbol CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill you. CO is a byproduct of combustion. It comes out of car tailpipes, gas ovens, fireplaces and heating systems.

That bird's nest was blocking the evacuation of CO out of your chimney from your furnace and hot-water heater. The gas was backing up into your house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Q. Isn't a fractured bone less serious than a broken bone?

This is a common misconception. A fracture and a break are the same thing.

For several reasons, seniors are in danger of breaking a bone. As we age, the power of our senses, reflexes and coordination diminishes.

Maladies and the medicines we take for them can contribute to balance problems, which can lead to falls. Then there's osteoporosis a disease that makes bones more likely to snap.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Q. My wife has complained of being short of breath while shopping in the mall. She says it's just a sign of age, but I'm concerned about her.

The likelihood of suffering shortness of breath or "dyspnea" (disp-nee-ah) becomes greater the older we get. As we age, our air passages get smaller, chest muscles weaken, and our lungs become less flexible. These changes reduce our air flow.