Archive for 2013

Is there anyway to reduce the side effects of my osteoporosis drug?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor wants me to take Fosamax for osteoporosis, but the drug gives me heartburn and makes me nauseated. Is there anything I can do to reduce these side effects?

DEAR READER: Fosamax (alendronate) is part of a group of drugs called biphosphonates. Actonel (risedronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) are also in this group. Doctors prescribe biphosphonates to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

What is the best way to treat conjunctivitis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter's eye is red. Does she have conjunctivitis? If so, what's the best way to treat it? Is there any way to prevent it?

DEAR READER: It could be conjunctivitis, but it also could be several other conditions. If her eye has one bright red area, but she doesn't have discomfort, it could be that a tiny blood vessel has burst. It may sound bad, but it's a simple and common condition that will slowly go away. But if the eye is extremely painful, it could be conditions that actually threaten her vision, including iritis and glaucoma.

Can you tell me about my treatment options for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Can you tell me about my treatment options?

DEAR READER: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling illness that affects the brain and spinal cord and worsens over time. MS damages nerve cells and a substance that is wrapped around the nerve cells, called myelin. A nerve cell functions like a copper wire -- it transmits electrical signals. Myelin is like the insulation surrounding a wire. It helps the electrical signal get transmitted down the nerve cell. When myelin is damaged, that transmission is interrupted.

What can I do to help reduce my tinnitus symptoms?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have tinnitus, and the constant sound is driving me crazy. What can I do?

DEAR READER: Tinnitus is commonly known as ringing in the ears. This phrase can be misleading, however. Some people hear ringing, while others hear whistles or a combination of sounds. Unusual sounds in your ears may seem like a trivial problem -- unless you have it.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

DEAR READER: They both involve food, but other than that, food allergies and food intolerances have little in common. Food allergies are orchestrated by the body's immune system. Food intolerance results from the gut's inability to digest food normally. Food allergies can be fatal; food intolerance causes discomfort but is not usually serious.

Why do I need a HbA1c test every few months for my Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have Type 2 diabetes, and I check my blood sugar levels every day. Why do I need to have my HbA1c levels tested every few months?

DEAR READER: Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and urine. Without adequate treatment, diabetes can cause serious long-term complications. The key to preventing them is to control blood sugar -- to keep it close to the normal level.

What are exercises that will strengthen my lower back?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My lower back has been giving me trouble. Could you describe some exercises to strengthen it?

DEAR READER: If misery loves company, you'll be glad to hear that there are many people who have back problems. One large survey conducted by the government found that about one out of every four adults had suffered from back pain lasting at least a whole day in the previous three months.

Where should I keep my advance medical directive?

DEAR DOCTOR K: This isn't really a medical question, but I hope you'll answer it anyway. Where should I keep my advance medical directive?

DEAR READER: You raise an important issue, and I'm happy to address it. In fact, your question is timely, because I have just discussed with my lawyer where to store my advance medical directive. Let me tell you what I've learned.