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Ask Dr. K: Addiction risk from painkillers is usually low

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor has prescribed prescription painkillers — opioids — for my severe back pain. They relieve my pain, but how can I reduce my risk of becoming hooked? DEAR READER: Simply being aware of the risk of addiction is a good first step in ensuring that you do not become addicted to prescription painkillers. I’ll explain a little bit about painkillers. Then I’ll describe some steps you can take to prevent addiction.

January 24, 2015 7:56 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Asthma plan will help during an emergency

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son was recently diagnosed with asthma. His doctor wants to put together an asthma “action plan.” What is that? DEAR READER: Asthma is a complicated and serious disease. It can behave differently from hour to hour and from day to day. A person with asthma needs a plan for what to do at each stage of the disease. I’ll describe the elements of the plan in a minute, but first a little background on asthma itself.

January 16, 2015 12:37 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: The newer hearing aids are often invisible

DEAR DOCTOR K: After years of living with hearing loss, I am soon going to get my first hearing aid. Anything I should know ahead of time to be prepared? DEAR READER: The first thing many new users of hearing aids notice is that sounds seem strange. Think of how different your own voice sounds when you listen to a tape recording of yourself. You may also be more aware than ever before of your footsteps, your car’s motor, the sounds you make as you chew your food, and just about any other environmental noise. Many hearing aids can be adjusted to lower the volume of unwanted noise. But more important, with time, your brain will get better at tuning it out.

January 15, 2015 10:55 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Handling grief differs from person to person

DEAR DOCTOR K: My spouse passed away last year, and I am still grieving. Is this normal? DEAR READER: By coincidence, I’m writing this reply to your question on the 51st anniversary of my father’s death. He died very young. This is a sad day — at least for me, this grief never fully ends.

January 15, 2015 9:28 a.m. read more..

Dr. K: Maintain healthy eating habits during menopause

DEAR DOCTOR K: Does menopause cause weight gain? DEAR READER: In the United States, women typically go through menopause between 47 and 59 years of age. And the average woman gains about one pound per year around the time of menopause. Not surprisingly, we tend to assume that menopause causes weight gain. Research suggests that there is no direct link between menopause and weight gain. But menopause may play an indirect role.

January 9, 2015 11:46 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Second pneumonia vaccine is recommended

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m 70 years old. I already had a pneumonia vaccine, back when I was 65. At my checkup last week, my doctor said I need to get another one. Why? DEAR READER: I always like to hear that adults are staying up to date with their vaccinations, as you did when you received a dose of the PPSV23 (Pneumovax) vaccine at age 65. Pneumovax helps protect against pneumonia caused by one common type of bacteria, called pneumococcus.

December 31, 2014 6:31 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Preventing sleep apnea will also help your heart

DEAR DOCTOR K: At my last checkup, my doctor asked if I snore. When I told the doctor that my husband says I snore a lot, the doctor said snoring can be a sign of heart disease, particularly in postmenopausal women. What does snoring have to do with heart disease? DEAR READER: Snoring is not a sign of heart disease, but it can be a sign of sleep apnea. And people with sleep apnea are at greater risk for heart disease. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes brief, repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night. A woman’s risk of sleep apnea rises after menopause.

December 13, 2014 1 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Hookahs are not harmless, in spite of what teens think

DEAR DOCTOR K: You recently wrote about e-cigarettes not being safe for teens. What about hookahs? I don’t completely understand what they are. Are they OK for my teen? I think he might be smoking them. DEAR READER: A hookah is a water pipe that people use to smoke a specially made tobacco. Often the tobacco used in hookahs is flavored, which makes smoking it more attractive to some people.

November 19, 2014 12:18 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Statin guidelines recognize expanded benefits

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor never recommended statins to me, but he says there are new guidelines, and thinks that I should now start taking one. What do you think of the new statin guidelines? DEAR READER: The new guidelines make a lot of sense, because we’ve learned that statins have more effects on the body than just lowering cholesterol. Statins were developed after a Nobel Prize-winning discovery in the 1970s revealed how the body makes cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol in our body is made by our body, not consumed in our food. Statins slow the production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by the body.

November 15, 2014 11:11 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Artificial sweeteners may not decrease calories

DEAR DOCTOR K: For 20 years, I’ve substituted artificial sweeteners for sugar in my coffee, and switched to diet soft drinks to avoid obesity and the diseases that overweight people are prone to, like Type 2 diabetes. Now I hear that new research says that’s a bad idea. What is going on? DEAR READER: Here’s what’s not confusing: More than a modest amount of sugar each day is not good for you. Nothing’s changed there.

November 13, 2014 9:38 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Human papillomavirus vaccine has proven benefits

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter’s pediatrician would like her to have the HPV vaccine. I’m not sure. Is there evidence the HPV vaccine has some real benefit? DEAR READER: Yes, there is evidence — overwhelming evidence. And with this vaccine, the benefit is not that it will reduce the risk of a short-lived illness, like the flu. This vaccine will reduce your daughter’s risk of getting a common and life-threatening cancer.

November 6, 2014 1:19 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Lower your risk of diabetic nephropathy

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have diabetes. My doctor says I’m at risk for diabetic nephropathy. What is that? What can I do to prevent it? DEAR READER: Diabetic nephropathy is kidney disease that is a complication of diabetes.

November 6, 2014 1:11 p.m. read more..

Dr. K: Tips on helping your child through puberty

DEAR DOCTOR K: What should I expect when my daughter goes through puberty? How can I help her as she goes through these changes? DEAR READER: Full disclosure: I don’t have any personal or parental experience to tap into for this question. Experienced colleagues and friends always emphasize how important it is to discuss puberty with your daughter before these changes begin. She needs to know what to expect and also that these changes are perfectly normal. Otherwise, she might be frightened by the first signs of change, such as her first menstrual bleeding.

November 4, 2014 6:12 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Home blood pressure monitor gives control

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor told me to check my blood pressure at home, but he didn’t give me many details. Could you provide some guidance? DEAR READER: Keeping your blood pressure in check is vital to maintaining heart health and preventing stroke. But the way most of us monitor our pressure — by trekking to the doctor’s office for occasional blood pressure checks — is far from ideal.

October 23, 2014 9:26 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Volunteering for a study can help you and others

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a particular disease. A nearby medical school is recruiting people with my condition to participate in a research study. Should I volunteer? DEAR READER There are two good reasons to consider volunteering for a study: It might help you, and it might help others. In some types of studies, there also may be risks to you.

October 18, 2014 12:44 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Test recommended only for men of a certain age

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions about whether or not to get screened for prostate cancer. Are there official guidelines? What do they recommend? DEAR READER: To say that prostate cancer screening has been controversial is an understatement. I spoke to my colleague Dr. Marc Garnick, clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, to hear his thoughts.

October 16, 2014 5:11 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Low sex drive improved with medication and therapy

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m a woman in my mid-50s. Lately I haven’t been able to become sexually aroused. What could be wrong? DEAR READER: Sex is complicated. You probably already know that. Sexual desire surely resides in the head, but other parts of the body can affect desire as well. In particular, the genital organs communicate with the brain.

October 9, 2014 3:42 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Services are available to care for ailing parents

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m a working mother. I also care for my ill and aging father. Are there professionals or services that can help me care for him? DEAR READER: There can be plenty of rewards in caring for an ailing parent. My parents both died suddenly while apparently healthy, so I never faced this situation. But I’ve had many patients and friends who have told me that they got closer to their parents in the process of caring for them.

August 14, 2014 11:44 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: How diabetes types differ

DEAR READER: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different diseases, but they share many things in common. Both types of diabetes are marked by elevated levels of blood glucose, or sugar. Type 2 diabetes, though, is much more common than Type 1 diabetes.

March 11, 2014 12:58 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Here’s a simple solution for nosebleeds

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son suffers from occasional nosebleeds. What's the best way to stop a nosebleed? DEAR READER: Many people suffer from nosebleeds. I tend to get them this time of year when the air is cold and dry, as it irritates the normally warm, moist surfaces inside the nose.

January 3, 2014 1:23 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Rest, ice, and compression will help ‘tennis elbow’

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve been playing tennis for years, but lately I’ve been sidelined by elbow pain. What can I do? DEAR READER: Elbow pain is the bane of tennis players. It has kept me off the courts for several months at a time. Let’s talk about how to get you back on the court — and prevent a repeat injury.

December 26, 2013 10:49 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: A living will can speak for you when you can’t

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m drawing up a living will, but I don’t understand many of the medical terms I’m encountering. Can you help? DEAR READER: Many people, certainly including me, have asked themselves how they would want to be cared for if they became very sick and unable to speak for themselves.

December 14, 2013 11:43 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Length of PCL rehabilitation depends on pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: I injured my PCL playing football. How long will my recovery take? DEAR READER: Let’s start with some knee anatomy. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are two tough bands of fibrous tissue. The ACL is injured more often than the PCL, which is why many people have heard of the ACL but not the PCL. The ACL and PCL connect the thighbone (femur) and the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) at the knee joint. The ACL and PCL form an “X” pattern that stabilizes the knee against front-to-back and back-to-front forces. (I’ve put a detailed illustration of the knee joint on my website,

October 19, 2013 8:56 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Women with PCOS can restore fertility

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was just diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. My doctor said it explains why I haven’t been able to get pregnant. What else can you tell me about this condition? DEAR READER: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a group of symptoms that results from an imbalance of certain hormones in the female body. It is relatively common: About 7 to 8 percent of adult women in the United States have PCOS.

August 31, 2013 12:33 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Gestational Diabetes requires monitoring

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was just diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What are the risks to my baby? And what do I need to do to keep her safe? DEAR READER: Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that occurs during pregnancy. Normally, the hormone insulin moves sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells that use it for fuel.

August 3, 2013 5:05 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Keep legs moving to avoid deep vein thrombosis

DEAR DOCTOR K: Last year I developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) — blood clots in my legs — during a long international flight. One of the clots got loose and went to my lungs. I’m fine now and am off all medications. Is it safe for me to fly again?

July 25, 2013 11:01 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Strength training is important part of overall fitness

DEAR DOCTOR K: I exercise regularly, running or playing tennis several times a week. I’d like to add strength training to my routine. Anything I should know before I start? DEAR READER: Strength training should be part of everyone’s exercise routine. I ignored it for years and just did aerobic exercise. Despite substantial aerobic exercise every day, and my resulting cardiovascular fitness, I noticed my muscle bulk slowly shrinking.

July 6, 2013 12:19 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Did you know berries are powerhouses of nutrition?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Berry season is here again, and I keep hearing that berries are healthy. What’s in them that makes them so good for you? DEAR READER: Here in the Northeast, we’re enjoying strawberries and looking forward to raspberries, blueberries and even blackberries further down the road.

June 29, 2013 1:36 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Foot care products vary in quality

DEAR DOCTOR K: I see lots of products designed to treat foot problems — and I have lots of foot problems. Are the foot care products you can buy in the drugstore worth the money? DEAR READER: For some body parts, the drugstore has little to offer. But you’re right: There are many foot products. To find out if they’re really helpful, I checked with my colleague, Dr. James P. Ioli, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Here are our thoughts on some common foot care products.

June 22, 2013 1:39 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Build up weak ankles to minimize sprains

DEAR DOCTOR K: I tend to sprain my ankle fairly often. Are there any exercises that could help me strengthen my ankles and prevent future sprains? DEAR READER: Your ankles are remarkable joints. They must bear the full weight of your body, yet stay nimble and flexible. Every step, every jump, every move puts your ankles through a surprising range of motion. Even when you stand quietly, your ankles are constantly making minute adjustments to help you stay balanced.

June 15, 2013 3:14 p.m. read more..

Dr. K: Kneecap pain is usually the result of excessive exercise

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have pain in my kneecap, right in front of my knee. It hurts to walk down the stairs or even sit for too long. What can I do? DEAR READER: It sounds like you have what is called patellofemoral pain. That’s pain where your kneecap (patella) meets your thighbone (femur). It usually results from overdoing exercise. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to prevent and relieve this pain.

June 1, 2013 2:51 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Foods with low glycemic load are better for your health

DEAR DOCTOR K: Can you explain the importance of glycemic load, as opposed to glycemic index, when judging carbohydrates? DEAR READER: Carbohydrates, along with proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, water and oxygen, are nutrients: We need them to live and grow. But even though we need carbohydrates, there still are carbohydrate-rich foods that are “good carbs” and “bad carbs.”

May 11, 2013 3:59 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Help for wandering alzheimer’s sufferers

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband has Alzheimer’s disease. Last week he left the house, and it took us hours to find him. How can I prevent him from wandering again? DEAR READER: One of the most dangerous and distressing symptoms of Alzheimer’s is wandering. It may seem unfathomable that a person might suddenly get up at night to go to the post office, or leave home at any hour for no apparent reason. The inability to control wandering is what often drives families to decide to place a loved one in a nursing home.

April 30, 2013 3:17 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Right words give doctors clues for treating neck pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: My neck hurts, but my doctor hasn’t been able to figure out why. I think if I had the words to better describe my pain, it might give him the clues he needs. Can you help? DEAR READER: Many of my patients have trouble describing their discomfort beyond telling me “it hurts.”

April 27, 2013 8:11 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Women still need a pap test, just not as often

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m a woman in my 30s, and I’ve never had an abnormal Pap test. Do I still need one every year? DEAR READER: The answer used to be yes. This helped ensure that you had regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. But new guidelines recommend less frequent Pap tests for younger women, and no Pap tests for many older women.

April 25, 2013 4:53 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Remedies relieve knee pain without surgery

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have osteoarthritis of the knee. Are there ways to relieve my knee pain without drugs or surgery? DEAR READER: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints. If you were to take an X-ray of every bone in the bodies of people over 50, probably most of us would have some degree of osteoarthritis in some joints.

April 24, 2013 noon read more..

Ask Dr.: I’m trying to hold back the slow, methodical footsteps of time.

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve heard there’s a new test that can help doctors diagnose a heart attack more quickly. Can you tell me about it? DEAR READER: A heart attack is instantly recognizable on TV and in the movies: The actor breaks into a sweat and clutches his heart. But in real life, a heart attack isn’t always so easy to identify.

April 23, 2013 12:51 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Read nutrition labels to find the ‘whole’ truth

DEAR DOCTOR K: These days everything in the supermarket claims to contain whole grains, from sugary cereals to my favorite chips. How do I know which foods are healthy whole grains? DEAR READER: “Whole grain” has become a healthy-eating buzz-phrase, and food companies aren’t shy about using it. But some of the products we buy may not deliver the healthful whole-grain goodness we’re expecting. And if sugary cereals can tout themselves as a whole-grain food, there’s something amiss.

April 21, 2013 8:29 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Restore dry skin with the change of seasons

DEAR DOCTOR K: Winter has wreaked havoc on my skin. It’s dry, itchy and cracked. What can I do to restore it, now that spring is here? DEAR READER: When the air is dry, it sucks moisture away from our skin. Our skin is built to retain moisture, but as we grow older it doesn’t do as good a job. Wintertime poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors. The combination of unusually dry air and aging leads to dry skin.

April 19, 2013 11:16 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Several conditions can cause burning mouth

DEAR DOCTOR K: For months, my mouth has been painfully burning and tingling. What could be causing my symptoms? Are there any treatments for it? DEAR READER: Several conditions can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. Some nutritional deficiencies — particularly of B vitamins, iron and zinc — can cause it.

April 18, 2013 11:37 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Take it slow and easy to avoid lightheadedness

DEAR DOCTOR K: I often feel lightheaded when I stand up, especially first thing in the morning. Why does this happen? DEAR READER: You are probably experiencing a drop in blood pressure when you stand up. This is called orthostatic hypotension. As a result, not enough blood reaches your brain, and you feel lightheaded or dizzy.

April 17, 2013 11:56 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: How do we keep our conversations civil?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband and I both have quick tempers. Before we know it, a simple observation turns into an argument. Any advice for keeping our conversations civil? DEAR READER: Everyone gets angry from time to time, but anger comes more easily to some people. Two married friends, call them Kevin and Jane, recently recounted the following exchange to me:

April 13, 2013 9:01 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Breast-feeding helps protect babies

DEAR DOCTOR K: What are the benefits of breast-feeding? And if I do decide to breast-feed, how will I know if my baby is getting enough milk? DEAR READER: Breast milk provides all the calories and nutrients that a baby needs for the first six months of life. It also helps protect babies from illnesses such as ear infections, lung infections, vomiting and diarrhea. That's because for the first months of life, a baby's immune system is not fully developed. Breast milk contains antibodies that the mother has made, plus several other infection-fighting substances and cells.

April 12, 2013 12:06 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Dietary changes bring relief from gastroparesis

DEAR DOCTOR K: A friend has a condition called gastroparesis. Could you explain what it is and how it can be treated? DEAR READER: Gastroparesis is the term used for sluggish emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine. Normally, your stomach moves about half of an average meal into the small intestine within two hours after you eat. Within four hours, about 90 percent of your meal is in the small intestine. If you have gastroparesis, food stays in the stomach much longer.

April 11, 2013 12:09 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: ‘Neural mismatch’ is cause of motion sickness

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve always had motion sickness while traveling. Now I’ve started to get it at the movies. What causes motion sickness? And what can I do about it? DEAR READER: Lots of people get dizzy or nauseated, and even vomit, when traveling by boat, airplane, car or bus. And as you’ve found, even watching a movie can bring on motion sickness — especially the action scene.

April 10, 2013 1:46 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: How cells age may lead to anti-aging treatments

DEAR DOCTOR K: I see advertisements about various treatments that stop your cells from aging. Is there anything to that? What happens to our cells as we age? DEAR READER: There are no treatments that can stop our cells from aging. But in the past 10 years scientists have made giant steps in understanding what causes cells to age. That knowledge could lead to true “anti-aging” treatments.

April 9, 2013 11:22 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Why there is no quick fix for a hangover

DEAR DOCTOR K: Why do I get a hangover when I drink? What’s the best way to get rid of it? DEAR READER: Last night was great — friends, food, fun and wine. Lots of wine. But this morning your head is pounding and your mouth is dry. The lights are too bright and every noise sounds like a jackhammer. Breakfast? You can’t bear the thought of it. There’s a lot we don’t know about hangovers — but we do know about the effects of alcohol on the body. And what we know may explain some of your hangover symptoms.

April 5, 2013 1:52 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Men and women can have different symptoms

DEAR DOCTOR K: It’s obvious that there are some health problems that affect only women, and others that affect only men. But for the health problems that affect both women and men, are there differences in symptoms, or in reactions to treatments? DEAR READER: That’s an interesting question. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes. Heart disease is a good example. Angina and heart attacks occur when too little blood flows to the heart through arteries. The classic symptom is chest pain or pressure that travels to the left arm, jaw or neck when you exert yourself.

April 4, 2013 10:15 a.m. read more..

Tai Chi creates framework for integrated living

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have heard that tai chi can have a profound impact on the body and mind. What gives this exercise so much power? DEAR READER: Tai chi is a Chinese martial art made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next. Tai chi is said to be good for both body and mind; in fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.” My Harvard Medical School colleague Dr. Peter Wayne, with Mark Fuerst, has written an informative new book about tai chi called “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.” (You can learn more about this book at Dr. Wayne discusses the “Eight Active Ingredients” of tai chi. He explains how, individually and in concert, they influence the body and mind. These active ingredients are:

April 3, 2013 11:10 a.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: For some women, a lumpectomy can be effective

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. My doctor wants me to consider a lumpectomy plus radiation. But wouldn’t a mastectomy be more effective? DEAR READER: In a lumpectomy, just the cancer and tissue immediately around it are removed, and radiation therapy is used to kill any nearby cancer cells that might not have been removed. In a mastectomy, the whole breast is removed. Since sometimes breast cancer cells (invisible to the eye of the surgeon) can spread into the surrounding breast, it’s plausible to think that a mastectomy might have a better cure rate than just a lumpectomy.

April 2, 2013 10:09 a.m. read more..

Seek treasure on Catherine Creek trails

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have bipolar disorder. I’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. How can one medication — lithium — treat both extremes? DEAR READER: Bipolar disorder is certainly a condition of extremes — extreme opposites.

March 30, 2013 2 p.m. read more..

Dr. K: Try therapy before problems become severe

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband and I have been happily married, more or less, for 25 years. But lately we’re fighting more. A friend suggested couples therapy. Can you tell me more about it? DEAR READER: I don’t feel as comfortable answering questions about relationships as more traditionally “medical” problems. I’m not Dr. Phil or Dr. Ruth. That said, here are my thoughts.

March 28, 2013 12:12 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Cut down on salt using herbs and spices

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve always enjoyed my food well-seasoned. Now my doctor wants me to cut down on my salt intake. Any suggestions? DEAR READER: Salt (sodium chloride) is like many other things in our food: We need it, just not in the amounts we take in. For most of us, the salt in our diet is too much of a good thing.

March 26, 2013 12:06 p.m. read more..

Ask Dr. K: Post-traumatic stress can occur after single event

DEAR DOCTOR K: A few months ago I was in a serious car accident. Since then I’ve been incredibly jumpy and have trouble sleeping. My wife thinks I may have PTSD. Could she be right? DEAR READER: Post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — is a condition in which distressing symptoms occur after a major trauma. PTSD is often discussed in the context of troops who have served in war zones, but you don’t have to see battle to get PTSD.

March 24, 2013 10:11 a.m. read more..

Medicine relieves symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter has just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. What is it, and what is the treatment? DEAR READER: Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, joint pains, weight loss, weakness and fatigue. It’s caused by inflammation of the small (and sometimes the large) intestine.

March 22, 2013 11:16 a.m. read more..

Benefits of low-dose aspirin outweigh risk of AMD

DEAR DOCTOR K: I take a daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack. I just read that aspirin can cause macular degeneration. Should I stop taking it? DEAR READER: No, you shouldn’t stop taking aspirin. Medicine — and life — is full of trading off one risk for another. Doctors and medical scientists aren’t (yet) smart enough to discover or invent treatments that have absolutely no risks, only benefits. So you have to compare the risk of a treatment against your risks if you don’t take it.

March 21, 2013 12:21 p.m. read more..

Tamoxifen offers benefits if taken for 10 years

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was diagnosed with ER-positive breast cancer a few years ago. My doctor told me to take tamoxifen for five years to prevent my cancer from coming back. I recently read that taking tamoxifen longer further decreases the risk

March 20, 2013 12:51 p.m. read more..

Electrical firestorm occurs during an epileptic seizure

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a friend with epilepsy. Can you explain what happens in her brain? DEAR READER: Epilepsy is a condition that causes repeated seizures, but sometimes seizures are not caused by epilepsy. It’s not uncommon, for example, for very young children to have seizures when they get a high fever. Called febrile seizures, they usually occur once or a few times and go away forever.

March 19, 2013 12:03 p.m. read more..


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