Archive for April, 2013

My husband has Alzheimer’s — how can I keep him from wandering?

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.

How can I control mild urinary incontinence?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have mild urinary incontinence. I've heard that something called "fluid management" can help.

DEAR READER: It can, and it's a simple concept. The less water in your bladder, the less pressure your bladder feels to urinate. For some people, eliminating excess fluid intake is all it takes to bring urinary incontinence under control.

How can I describe my neck pain more accurately to help my doctor treat me?

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." Even a slightly more specific description can help me identify -- or exclude -- a particular diagnosis.

Can regular bike riding cause ED in men?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm an avid biker. But could my biking lead to erectile dysfunction?

DEAR READER: Biking is an excellent form of exercise. But occasionally, if men who bicycle many hours each week are not careful, it can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction.

How often should I get a Pap test for cervical cancer?

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.

Can I relieve my knee pain without drugs or 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. If you're still in the early stages of osteoarthritis, a variety of remedies may offer some pain relief without drugs or surgery:

Is there a new, faster test to detect heart attacks?

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.

What’s better for weight loss, diet or exercise?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Please settle a long-running argument between me and my sister. What's more effective for weight loss, diet or exercise?

DEAR READER: Losing weight can be a challenge. The best approach is to eat less and exercise more. But that's not what you asked me. Let's say one person cuts back on calories without exercising and another person increases exercise without cutting back on calories. The first person would probably find it easier to lose weight. That's because it's easier to cut 500 calories a day from your diet than to burn 500 extra calories through exercise.

How can I choose a healthy whole-grain food?

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.

What’s causing the burning sensation in my 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. These problems can […]