Report urges new name, better diagnosis for CFS

WASHINGTON – Doctors are getting a new way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome – and influential government advisers say it’s time to replace that hated name, too, to show it’s a real and debilitating disease. The Institute of Medicine earlier this month called on doctors … Read more

Latest stories

Doctor K: With a phobia, fear is persistent

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a terrible fear of heights, dogs and public speaking. My sister calls them “phobias” and says I should seek help. How do I know if my fears are normal, or if I need treatment? DEAR READER: We all have things we worry about or are afraid of. And with most of them, we’re right to be fearful. But in people with a phobia, the fear is persistent, excessive and unrealistic. As many as one in 10 people suffer from phobias at some time during their lives. Read more

Dr. Zorba Paster: Weigh pros, cons of medical tests

Can we doctors overtest? You bet we can. Is there a downside to overtesting? Of course there is. Can you, a patient, possibly know if a test is good for you or not? Yes, you can. Health care statistics show we could save billions of dollars by smart testing. So why aren’t doctors doing this? Because we’ve been trained to think more testing is better patient care. And because you, dear patient, usually want that test. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Schizophrenia requires meds, counseling

DEAR DOCTOR K: There is a history of schizophrenia in my family. I’d like to learn more about it. Can it be treated? DEAR READER: Schizophrenia is a long-lasting psychotic disorder. People with the condition have a hard time recognizing reality, thinking logically and behaving naturally in social situations. Having a parent or sibling with schizophrenia increases your risk of developing it. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Urgent care centers not same as ER

DEAR DOCTOR K: What are urgent care centers? Are they the same as emergency rooms? DEAR READER: They definitely are not the same. Emergency rooms are for true emergencies – even though many people go to emergency rooms for quite minor problems. Typically, emergency rooms are attached to hospitals, because patients with true emergencies usually need to be hospitalized after their treatment in the emergency room. Read more

Washington offers new enrollment period for health insurance

Washington state will open a special enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that extends through tax-filing season. Read more

Ask Dr.K: Kidney stones? Drink more water

DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently had a very painful kidney stone. What can I do to prevent another? DEAR READER: Kidney stones are hard, chemical deposits that form inside the kidney chambers where urine is collected. Urine passes from the kidney down a narrow tube (the ureter) and into the bladder. If a stone gets carried into the narrow ureter, it can get stuck. This can cause severe pain, bloody urine, nausea and vomiting. Read more

Find calm through cancer with reiki

Nancy Curtis’ first chemotherapy treatment at Spokane Valley Cancer Center was Halloween 2013. Terrified and anxious, she sat waiting for the needle, infusion of chemicals and the unknown. Then a woman offered her an impromptu reiki treatment. Read more

House Call: Fluoride helps balance bacteria’s wreckage

Have you ever wondered how fluoride helps strengthen teeth? We all have naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths that form a thin coating on the teeth called plaque. It increases after you eat food with sugars and starches in them like candy, milk, bread, pasta, soda, juice, cake and crackers. These bacteria break down sugars and starches and produce acids that remove the minerals in the outer layer, the enamel, of your teeth. If the minerals are not replaced, a cavity may form, which may need to be filled to prevent further damage, stop pain and prevent infection. Fluoride helps replace those minerals. Fluoride also fights cavities by making it more difficult for the bacteria to stick to teeth. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Arthritic knees? Jog on softer surface

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m 68. I’ve jogged regularly for decades, but I’ve recently developed a touch of arthritis in my knees. Will continuing to run make my knees wear out faster? DEAR READER: Having mild arthritis in the knees should not stop you from running. And, in case you were wondering, running probably did not create the problem in the first place. Read more

Start now to improve health

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to embrace a more healthful lifestyle. What new diet book should you buy? Should you join a CrossFit gym? Do you need a tracker, and if so, which one? And – gulp! – how much is this all going to cost? It’s enough to make you plop back down on the couch and reach for the remote. Here are five ways to improve your health starting today that might even save you money in the long run. Read more

EWU programs offer discounted care to local vets

Local military veterans can get $10 dental care and free physical therapy through an event sponsored by Eastern Washington University’s Dental Hygiene and Physical Therapy programs. Dental students will provide cleanings, X-rays, dental exams and assessments while the physical therapy students will provide screens and recommendations for veterans who may experience neck or back pain, or loss of balance. Read more

A few questions about measles

NEW YORK – Measles has become relatively rare in the United States, thanks to very effective vaccine. A recent outbreak tied to Disneyland has shown that even among some doctors, knowledge of the once-common illness is spotty. Some questions and answers about a still-dangerous disease that’s re-emerged as a leading public health concern: Read more

Region taking steps to boost vaccination

Measles outbreaks during the past year have rekindled the national and Northwest debate regarding vaccines in an area with historically higher-than-average numbers of people who don’t have their children immunized against diseases. There have been some gains. The National Immunization Survey found that both Washington and Idaho meet the public health goal of having more than 90 percent of toddlers – children 19 to 35 months old – vaccinated against the measles and a host of other diseases. Read more

Doctor K: Bacteria under skin troublemaker

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son developed a large, red, swollen area on his arm. The doctor called it cellulitis. My son is better now, but I’d like to learn more about cellulitis. DEAR READER: Cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection of the skin. Bacteria live on the surface of our skin, but the skin is built to keep the bacteria from getting inside us. If they get beneath the surface of the skin, and then into the tissues below the skin, they can make trouble. Read more

Dr. Zorba Paster: Reading subtitles can be a workout

Dear Dr. Z: I read your column about keeping the brain fit by doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other “active” brain exercise such as reading. You stated that watching television was passive, and therefore does not stimulate the mind. But what about when you read subtitles in a foreign film or, as in my case, closed captioning? I’m nearly deaf so I need those words scrolling across the TV screen to tell me what the story is about. Does this count as brain stimulation? — Will Staybright Read more

Technology helps deaf people use sign language to communicate for calls

Dennis Matthews, 38, uses his hands to talk. He’s deaf and speaks American Sign Language, even during phone calls. Thanks to Video Relay Service, Matthews can use his primary language to communicate with hearing people over the phone. All he needs is a monitor, TV, or video-capable mobile device and a high speed Internet connection. Read more

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