Archive for August, 2013

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome — What can you tell me about this condition?

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.

Why do people lose height and develop a stooped posture as they get older?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Why do so many people lose height and develop a stooped posture as they get older?

DEAR READER: You may be surprised by the answer. In many older people, loss of height and stooped posture results from fractures of the spine. When you think of a bone fracture, you probably picture a long bone being snapped like a twig, as with a broken arm or leg.

Is it healthy to drink wine every night even after you’ve had a mild heart attack?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband recently had a mild heart attack. He's never been much of a drinker, but now he wants to have wine with dinner every night because he's heard that it's good for the heart. What do you think?

DEAR READER: Not long ago a patient of mine, a 45-year-old man, asked me if he should have a drink every night to lower his risk of heart disease. I replied, "Absolutely." A few months later, another man in his 40s asked me the same question. I replied, "I wouldn't."

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and now my doctor wants an MRI– what new information will the MRI provide?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently had a prostate biopsy and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now my doctor wants to do an MRI. Why? What new information will the MRI provide?

DEAR READER: I can understand why you're puzzled. A biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosing prostate cancer, so why do you need any other test?

What is the best way to remove a tick from your skin?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I live in a heavily wooded area, so I'd like to know the best way to remove a tick if you spot one on your skin.

DEAR READER: Knowing how to remove a tick is a useful skill for anyone who spends time outdoors, or who cares for someone who does. The sooner a tick is removed -- correctly -- the less likely the critter can deliver bacteria that cause Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases.

I eat when I’m stressed — How can I stop this impulse?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Why do I eat when I'm stressed out? Can you suggest ways to help me overcome this impulse?

DEAR READER: Worry and pressure can cause a person to seek comfort, and one of the most immediate forms of comfort is "comfort food." It's good, and it's also a temporary distraction from what you're worrying about. But this is not the whole story.

Is it OK to let my teenager sleep late on the weekends?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My teenage son likes to sleep in on weekends, often until noon. Is it OK to let him do this?

DEAR READER: I've been asked this question by nearly every parent of teenagers I know. I checked with my Harvard Medical School colleague, pediatrician Dennis Rosen, who confirmed what I've been saying: Letting your son sleep in on weekends isn't doing him any favors.

I have Achilles tendinitis — what can I do to ease the pain in my foot?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have Achilles tendinitis. What can I do to ease the pain in my foot?

DEAR READER: Your Achilles tendon -- a rope of sturdy tissue that connects muscle to bone -- runs up the back of your heel. Achilles tendinitis occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed. This causes pain and sometimes tenderness and swelling in the back of the heel.

If my joints hurt does that mean I have osteoarthritis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My joints hurt. Does that mean I have osteoarthritis?

DEAR READER: Your knee aches from time to time, or maybe your fingers don't seem as nimble as they used to be. That doesn't mean you have osteoarthritis -- but you might.

There are many different kinds of arthritis. They all damage the cartilage, the flexible tissue lining joints. Every joint is a spot where two (or more) bones meet. The cartilage in a joint keeps bone from rubbing against bone.