How should discipline change as children get older?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have two children in elementary school. When they were younger, I disciplined them with timeouts. How should discipline change as they get older?

DEAR READER: Discipline is important for children of all ages. But you're right: The style of encouraging discipline changes somewhat as children get older. At whatever age, the goal is not to punish, but rather to teach self-control and the difference between acceptable (right) and unacceptable (wrong) behaviors. In answering questions about kids, I rely a lot on the advice of pediatrician colleagues here at Harvard Medical School.

Is it possible to be obese and healthy at the same time?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Is it possible to be obese and healthy at the same time?

DEAR READER: I call questions like yours "Could I get lucky?" questions. Basically, these questions ask: "If I do (or ignore) something that puts me at great risk, could I get away with it?" The answer to those questions almost always is: Yes, it's possible -- but don't hold your breath. In my opinion, an important part of living is taking account of the odds. You may weigh the odds and decide that you want to do something risky anyway: It's just that important to you.

What are “ancient grains”?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I keep hearing about "ancient grains." What are they? Are they healthier than other grains?

DEAR READER: The term "ancient grains" may be a bit of a misnomer. These grains and seeds are not necessarily older than "modern" grains such as oats and wheat. But they have remained closer to their original form over thousands of years of changing farming practices. Over the past few years, ancient grains have become quite popular.

What happens during chiropractic treatment — what types of pain can it relieve?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been having back problems, and frankly, my regular doctor hasn't come up with treatments that help me much. So I'm wondering: What happens during chiropractic treatment? What types of pain can it relieve?

DEAR READER: Regular readers of this column know that I'm not very stuffy. I think treatments that are called "complementary" or "alternative" medicine should not be dismissed out of hand. Instead, those treatments that many people have found helpful -- and that are not clearly dangerous -- should be studied in the same way that traditional medical treatments are.

Could my anger trigger a heart attack?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a bad temper. Could my anger trigger a heart attack?

DEAR READER: You've seen it in movies: A character shouts in anger -- then drops to the floor clutching his chest. But this isn't just a movie scenario. Research shows that in the two hours after an angry outburst, a person has a slightly higher risk of having heart trouble. By heart trouble, I mean chest pain (angina), a heart attack, or a dangerous heart rhythm that can lead to sudden death. The person also is at higher risk for having a stroke.

What are drug-free ways to relieve menstrual pain and cramping?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Can you recommend drug-free ways to relieve menstrual pain and cramping?

DEAR READER: For most women, menstruation is accompanied, at one time or another, by pain and cramping known as dysmenorrhea. For some women, the pain is so severe that it causes them to miss work and social events. Some doctors don't regard menstrual pain as a "serious" problem. But any symptom that interferes with your personal or work life needs to be attended to and not dismissed. The cause of menstrual pain appears to be overproduction of the chemicals known as prostaglandins.

How do I know if the drugs I’m taking are still necessary?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm in my 70s. Every day I take 10 medications, many of which I have been taking for years. How do I know if all of these drugs are still necessary?

DEAR READER: You've asked an important question. It should be a part of every medical visit for your doctor to review your medicines. There are several reasons that I say this. First, doctors' visits these days are pretty short. We often feel rushed to cover everything in the time available. Even though we should be reviewing the medicines that a person is taking, we sometimes don't.

What can I do to clear up adult acne?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I am in my 40s, but my face resembles a teenager's -- and not in a good way. What can I do to clear up my adult acne?

DEAR READER: Acne is most common during the teenage years. But it may appear for the first time, or worsen, at the start of menopause. Acne begins in hair follicles -- little pits in the skin, each containing a hair. Glands at the bottom of the follicle make an oily substance called sebum. The sebum normally oozes up to the top of the follicle and onto the skin.

What is a heart murmur?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is a heart murmur? How is it treated?

DEAR READER: A heart murmur is a sound made by turbulent blood flow within the heart. (Think whitewater rapids as opposed to a gently flowing river.) Your doctor hears this sound with a stethoscope. Most often, a murmur occurs in a healthy heart. Sometimes, people have murmurs just with a normal flow of blood through their hearts.

Should I try the new FDA approved weight loss drug?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I heard about a new drug that can help people lose weight. I'm overweight. Should I give it a try?

DEAR READER: You're likely referring to Contrave, a drug the FDA approved in September of 2014 to help people lose weight along with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. Contrave combines two drugs, naltrexone and bupropion. These drugs are already approved for other uses. Naltrexone is used to help kick alcohol and narcotic addiction. Bupropion is used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder. Many people also take bupropion to stop smoking. Neither naltrexone nor bupropion by itself has been approved for weight loss.