Archive for November, 2013

How can a geriatric care manager help me take care of my elderly father?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Taking care of my elderly father, with his complicated medical care, has become more than I can handle. A friend suggested I hire a geriatric care manager. How can this person help?

DEAR READER: Caring for an elderly parent takes a lot of time, energy and patience, and it may also cause financial strain. But caregiving also can be wonderfully rewarding. Even if you do find it rewarding and don't want to stop playing a major role in caring for your parent, you might still feel overwhelmed.

Why is it complicated to test testosterone levels?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been having symptoms that may be caused by low testosterone. I figured it would be easy to test my testosterone levels, but my doctor says it's complicated. Why?

DEAR READER: Testosterone is one of the main male hormones. Blood levels of this hormone start to sag in early adulthood, and then creep lower. In some men, the levels become low enough to cause symptoms. The classic symptoms of low testosterone ("low T") are low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, poor muscle tone, poor concentration and memory, and low energy.

What are easy ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into my dinners?

DEAR DOCTOR K:I try to cook dinner most nights, but by the end of the day, I'm too tired to make sure the meals are balanced. Can you suggest easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our dinners?

DEAR READER: When I come home from work, hungry and tired, I'm apt to snack on whatever's in the fridge. If what I see in the fridge is a slice of pizza, I'll reach for it. But if I see some hummus to spread on a cracker -- a much healthier option than pizza -- I'll snack on that.

My body temperature is rarely 98.6 degrees when I’m not sick– Should I be concerned?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Even when I'm feeling fine, my body temperature is rarely 98.6 degrees. I thought that was the normal temperature. Should I be concerned?

DEAR READER: It's still taught to schoolchildren: Normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But people are different from one another. That's as true of their body temperature as it is of their height, the size of their ears or the color of their hair.

I have knee osteoarthritis. Are there exercises that could relieve my pain?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have knee osteoarthritis. Are there exercises that could relieve my pain?

DEAR READER: As a fellow sufferer, I know that joint pain from osteoarthritis can really interfere with life. Since putting pressure on the joint can make it hurt more, you might think that exercises would only make the pain worse, and so you might be tempted to avoid exercising altogether.

What is the best way to get rid of warts?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is the best way to get rid of warts?

DEAR READER: Getting rid of warts can be a challenge. Fortunately, the more effective treatments are the simplest. Warts occur when skin cells grow faster than normal because they are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Why does my doctor want me to do a food challenge when my blood test showed negative for a shellfish allergy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Last month I broke out in hives after eating oysters. I had a blood test, which came back negative for a shellfish allergy. Why does my doctor still want me to do a food challenge?

DEAR READER: Allergic reactions occur when your body's immune system overreacts against a harmless substance -- in your case, possibly, shellfish. Food allergies can cause a variety of symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening.

What can I do to prevent my baby developing a flat spot on the back of his head?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I know it's safer for my baby to sleep on his back, but I'm worried he'll develop flat spots on the back of his head. What can I do to prevent this?

DEAR READER: Flat spots on the head are becoming more common in babies. As you suspect, that's likely because more babies are sleeping on their backs than on their bellies. We want babies to sleep on their backs to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Is tooth decay the same as a cavity?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is tooth decay? Is it the same as a cavity?

DEAR READER: Tooth decay is not the same as a cavity -- but tooth decay can lead to the formation of a cavity. Tooth decay (also known as dental caries) originates with plaque, the sticky, bacteria-laden film that collects on your teeth between brushings. In recent years, we've learned that many types of bacteria produce filmy substances that act like a protective foam.