Archive for September, 2011

Do carbonated beverages harm your bones?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I know I should drink plenty of water every day, but sometimes I get tired of drinking plain water. So I reach for club soda, seltzer water or sparkling mineral water. But I've heard that carbonated drinks could be bad for my bones. Is this true?

DEAR READER: Several of my patients have asked the same question. Sometimes they are not asking about carbonated water, but carbonated beverages that contain caffeine (like colas) and sugar or sweetener. I'll tell you what I tell them.

What can I do to stop passing gas?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I pass a lot of gas. It's bad enough when I'm alone. But it's absolutely mortifying when I have to pass gas in public. What can I do?

DEAR READER: It's normal to have air in the digestive tract. Some gets there when you swallow it and some is produced during digestion. Your body normally produces up to two quarts of gas a day. This air moves in your digestive tract along with food and waste products. Eventually it needs to be expelled to prevent painful stretching of the stomach and intestine.

How can I fall asleep?

DEAR DOCTOR K: For the past few months I've been having a lot of trouble falling asleep, basically every night. I'm groggy and can't concentrate on anything all day. I'd give anything for a good night's rest.

DEAR READER: Trouble falling asleep often occurs because a person is overstimulated. There may be unusual stresses in your life that cause a lot of anxiety. With most of my patients, however, there's no one thing they can put their finger on that explains why they are lying there having trouble falling asleep. Here are some of the things I tell my patients to do, and not to do, to fall asleep more easily.

Can “holding it” hurt your bladder?

DEAR DOCTOR K: This may seem like an odd question, but can "holding it" when you need to urinate damage your bladder? I sleep on the second floor of my house, but the only bathroom is on the first. Sometimes I just don't feel like getting up! Am I hurting myself?

DEAR READER: I'd say you're in good company — we've all "held it" before, for whatever reason. Many of my patients ask me the same question you have. I've even had a patient ask if her bladder could actually explode from holding it too long.

My mission for the Ask Doctor K newspaper column

This is the first of a new column: Ask Doctor K. My new column replaces a longstanding health column, Ask Dr. Gott. Former readers of Ask Dr. Gott know he provided considered answers to health and wellness questions from readers. I plan to do the same and I hope you will find my comments as helpful as Dr. Gott's were.