Archive for January, 2015

Do I really need regular dental checkups?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I take good care of my teeth, brushing and flossing regularly. Do I still need to have regular dental checkups?

DEAR READER: Even if you brush your teeth three times a day and floss daily, regular checkups with a dental professional are a must. For most people, two checkups per year are enough. That's what I have. Routine visits usually include a professional cleaning, an exam and possibly X-rays.

What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is inflammatory bowel disease?

DEAR READER: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) usually refers to two conditions: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both cause ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract. In both types of inflammatory bowel disease, the body's immune system starts attacking the intestinal tissue. This attack may be an example of "collateral damage."

Do babies need to take a vitamin and mineral supplement?

DEAR DOCTOR K: The other day I saw a vitamin and mineral supplement for infants. Should I be giving this to my baby?

DEAR READER: Most babies who regularly breast-feed or take commercial infant formula get all the vitamins and minerals they need. Sometimes, however, your doctor may prescribe certain vitamin and mineral supplements. Do not give your baby any supplements unless your doctor recommends them.

What is an asthma action plan?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son was recently diagnosed with asthma. His doctor wants to put together an asthma "action plan." What is that?

DEAR READER: Asthma is a complicated and serious disease. It can behave differently from hour to hour and from day to day. A person with asthma needs a plan for what to do at each stage of the disease. I'll describe the elements of the plan in a minute, but first a little background on asthma itself.

What should I know about getting hearing aids?

DEAR DOCTOR K: After years of living with hearing loss, I am soon going to get my first hearing aid. Anything I should know ahead of time to be prepared?

DEAR READER: The first thing many new users of hearing aids notice is that sounds seem strange. Think of how different your own voice sounds when you listen to a tape recording of yourself.

How long is it OK to grieve a loss of a loved one?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My spouse passed away last year, and I am still grieving. Is this normal?

DEAR READER: By coincidence, I'm writing this reply to your question on the 51st anniversary of my father's death. He died very young. This is a sad day -- at least for me, this grief never fully ends.

What exactly is energy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: We use the word "energy" a lot. But what exactly is it?

DEAR READER: We work -- our hearts beat, our brains think, our muscles move -- because our cells work. Our cells work because they can generate energy. They can generate it because the blood brings them fuel they convert into energy. Let's call this "physical" energy. Why is energy important? Without it, you wouldn't be able to breathe, get up out of your chair or read this column.

Does menopause cause weight gain?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Does menopause cause weight gain?

DEAR READER: In the United States, women typically go through menopause between 47 and 59 years of age. And the average woman gains about one pound per year around the time of menopause. Not surprisingly, we tend to assume that menopause causes weight gain.

How can I encourage my daughter to choose a healthy lunch?

DEAR DOCTOR K: How can I encourage my daughter to eat a healthy lunch at school, whether she buys lunch or brown-bags it?

DEAR READER: Children need a healthy lunch to refuel after a long morning of working hard. The midday meal also provides energy and nutrients for kids to stay healthy and grow as well as possible. If your daughter is going to buy lunch at school, encourage her to: