Archive for June, 2013

Why are berries considered to be so healthy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Berry season is here again, and I keep hearing that berries are healthy. What's in them that makes them so good for you?

DEAR READER: Berries are perhaps the easiest way to follow the fruit part of the "eat more fruit and vegetables" advice you hear all the time, including from me.

Can I lower my blood pressure without taking medication?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My blood pressure medication has side effects that are difficult to tolerate. What else can I do to lower my BP?

DEAR READER: If you're a regular reader of this column, you've heard me say more than once that diet and exercise sometimes can eliminate the need for medications for a variety of conditions. That's true -- and it surely is true for high blood pressure.

How should I respond when my 4-year-old tells a lie?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Lately my 4-year-old has started lying to me. She'll say she didn't break a toy, or push her brother, when I know she did. How should I handle this?

DEAR READER: Almost all preschoolers will lie at one time or another -- and it's clear they know they're lying, and that they shouldn't be doing that. For example, when one child hits another and is challenged about it, here's the usual sequence of lies: "I didn't do it"; "I didn't mean it"; "It didn't hurt anyway!"

Should I worry because my resting heart rate is high?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm a man in my 50s. I'm in good shape and I exercise regularly, but I have a high resting heart rate. Is this cause for concern?

DEAR READER: Your heart rate changes from minute to minute. It depends on whether you are standing up or lying down, moving around or sitting still, stressed or relaxed. Your resting heart rate is how fast your heart beats when you are relaxed and sitting still.

Are drugstore foot-care products effective?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I see lots of products designed to treat foot problems -- and I have lots of foot problems. Are the foot care products you can buy in the drugstore worth the money?

DEAR READER: For some body parts, the drugstore has little to offer. But you're right: There are many foot products. To find out if they're really helpful, I checked with my colleague, Dr. James P. Ioli, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Here are our thoughts on some common foot care products.

Are sunless tanning lotions and sprays safe?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I like to look tanned, but I'm fair-skinned and can't spend too much time in the sun. Are sunless tanning lotions and sprays safe?

DEAR READER: Looking tanned is attractive, probably because it is equated with health. If you're tanned, you're the "picture of health." There are basically just three ways your skin can be tanned: (1) exposure to sunlight, (2) exposure to artificial tanning lamps, and (3) staining your skin with a sunless tanning lotion. But no one should spend too much time soaking up the sun's rays.

Is it unsafe to feed solid foods to my 2-month-old daughter?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've started giving pureed solid foods to my 2-month-old daughter. My sister doesn't think this is safe. What's your opinion?

DEAR READER: I agree that it's too soon. Pediatricians advise waiting until a baby is 4 months old to introduce solid foods. You can even wait a bit longer. Breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 6 months. There is no proven benefit from introducing solid foods before 4 months, and there are risks.

I have an open sore on the bottom of my foot — do I need to see a doctor?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have an open sore on the bottom of my foot. Can I just cover it with a Band-Aid until it heals, or do I need to see a doctor?

DEAR READER: I am glad you asked this question, because in most circumstances, just covering it with a Band-Aid is a really bad idea. I'm guessing that this "sore" is more than some redness of the skin. I assume it is a little hole or crater, and that the top skin of the sole of your foot is gone. If that's the case, what you've got is called a foot ulcer. If you have a foot ulcer, you should see your doctor.