Archive for July, 2016

Could stress be contributing to my high blood pressure?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Could stress be causing my high blood pressure?

DEAR READER: You bet it could. It surely contributed to my high blood pressure. Most of us experience a lot of stress. I'm not sure today's world is more stressful than the world of our parents or grandparents. We may have different stressors than they did, but life has always been full of stress.

How will losing weight help me sleep better?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm overweight. My doctor told me, among other things, that losing weight would help me sleep better. What's the connection?

DEAR READER: It's true. Losing weight, especially in your belly, improves the quality of sleep if you are overweight or obese.

Why won’t my doctor prescribe antibiotics for my illness?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been under the weather for a few days. This morning I blew my nose and saw greenish mucus, so I called my doctor and requested antibiotics. He refused. Why?

DEAR READER: Your doctor is correct not to prescribe antibiotics based on the color of your mucus alone. Despite what many people think, you cannot rely on the color or consistency of nasal discharge to distinguish viral from bacterial sinus infections. That's an important distinction because only bacterial infections respond to antibiotics.

How does weight-loss surgery work?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm very overweight. Diet and exercise help a little, but then I gain it back. My doctor is recommending weight-loss surgery. Does it really work, and how does it work?

DEAR READER: There are several types of weight-loss surgery (also called "bariatric surgery"). They work in various ways. They shrink the size of the stomach: The stomach gets full more easily. They reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients in the intestine. Some types of bariatric surgery also lead to hormone changes that reduce appetite and burn energy more efficiently.

Can I use a retail health clinic instead of going to my regular doctor?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What do you think of the walk-in health clinics that are popping up? Can I use them instead of going to my regular doctor?

DEAR READER: You ask a timely question. More and more Americans are turning to retail health clinics -- walk-in medical facilities located in storefronts, pharmacies, grocery stores and retailers. As of late 2015, there were more than 2,000 of them in the United State.

What can I feed my baby?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I thought I knew what solid foods to give my baby, and when to give them. But the recommendations seem to change constantly. What do I need to know?

DEAR READER: To make sure I had the most current information, I spoke to my colleague Dr. Claire McCarthy, a primary care pediatrician at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children's Hospital. She said that most dietary advice has remained the same. For example, wait until your baby is at least 4 months old before starting solids, and introduce one new food at a time.