Archive for September, 2012

What type of synthetic thyroid hormone should I take?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have hypothyroidism and take synthetic thyroid hormone. Is it OK to switch brands or switch to a generic?

DEAR READER: It's OK to switch, so long as your doctor monitors your thyroid blood tests. It is very important to get your dose right: Your thyroid gland influences your metabolism. It affects everything from body temperature to body weight, energy level, even fertility.

How can I get relief from foot pain caused by a Morton’s neuroma?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a painful pinched nerve in my foot. What are my treatment options?

DEAR READER: The medical term for a pinched or compressed nerve that causes pain and swelling is a neuroma. Neuromas that occur in the sole of the foot are called Morton's neuromas and are particularly common. They occur in between the third and fourth toes or between the second and third toes.

Can supplements help boost my energy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Many herbs, vitamins and supplements claim to boost energy. Do any of them actually work?

DEAR READER: Unfortunately, there is not much scientific evidence to support the claims. Here is my best current assessment of the published evidence:

How is chronic prostatitis treated?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have chronic prostatitis. Antibiotics haven't helped. What other treatment options are there?

DEAR READER: Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate. This walnut-sized gland secretes fluid into semen. Prostatitis is widespread and affects men of all ages. According to a study published in the World Journal of Urology, about two out of every 100 men worldwide suffer from chronic prostatitis.

What is trigger finger?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My finger hurts. When I try to bend and straighten it, it feels like it's catching. What's going on?

DEAR READER: It sounds like you have trigger finger. This common condition is named for the trigger-like snap that occurs when the finger briefly locks and then suddenly releases as you try to bend or straighten it.

How can I treat a boil at home?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a painful boil on my thigh. Can I treat it at home?

DEAR READER: Yes, you can, unless it's an unusually large boil (called a carbuncle). Boils and carbuncles are skin infections that form pus-filled pockets in the skin. Pus is a fluid that contains bacteria, dead skin cells and infection-fighting white blood cells.

How can I lower my triglyceride level?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently had my cholesterol checked, and it turns out I have high triglyceride levels. Why are high triglycerides dangerous? What can I do about it?

DEAR READER: What's often called a "cholesterol test" really measures three different kinds of cholesterol and one other type of fat, triglycerides. Most people have heard of the three types of cholesterol: LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol and total cholesterol. But not as many have heard of triglycerides.

What causes stuttering in children?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My child stutters. Why does he do this? What can we do to help him?

DEAR READER: I remember the first time I met someone who stuttered. He was a playmate when I was in grade school, whose parents knew my parents.

What is dysthymia?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with dysthymia. Can you tell me more about this condition? Is it the same as depression?

DEAR READER: Dysthymia is a form of depression. It is less severe than major depression, but usually lasts longer.