Frozen treatment: Rockwood’s IceCure machine can solve benign breast tumors

The first time Katherine Gawenit, 30, found a lump in her breast she was a 19-year-old college freshman. “That was a scary one,” she said. Read more

Latest stories

Turning ALS awareness into donations, hope

It has been a year since the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Remember that? When almost all of us knew someone who had dumped a bucket of ice water over his or her head to promote awareness of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease) to encourage donations to research for the disease. The challenge exceeded expectations and raised $220 million dollars. Around 5,600 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS each year, and about 30,000 Americans live with the condition. The long-term prognosis is not optimistic. Some 50 percent of people live three to five years with the disease and 30 percent live from five to 10 years. A very few – like physicist Steven Hawking – live much longer. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Two types of surgery on arteries

DEAR DOCTOR K: My friend said he had bypass surgery and angioplasty at the same time. Isn’t it usually one or the other? DEAR READER: To answer your question, I need to explain both the traditional approach and then the new hybrid approach. The hybrid approach cannot be used in all patients. However, when it is used, the goal is to make the surgery less grueling, and the beneficial results of surgery more long-lasting. Read more

Is testosterone safe to boost sex drive?

Q. I love my husband. He is amazing, except for the fact that he hardly ever wants sex. We make love two or three times a month, but only if I initiate it. I fear a year could go by if I didn’t beg him for sex. We’re in our 30s, so giving up sex seems intolerable. I have suggested he see his doctor to have his testosterone checked, but he is reluctant. He’s read that testosterone could be dangerous for the heart. Is that true? Read more

Teach kids how to safely self-medicate with OTC drugs

NEW YORK – There’s so much for parents to talk about with teens heading off to college for the first time. There’s the safe-sex talk, the nutrition talk, the get-enough-sleep talk, the partying talk and the study-hard talk. In between all the talking and the packing and the planning, teaching kids how to safely self-medicate with over-the-counter preparations for colds, headaches and sore muscles might not be on the parental radar. Read more

Choice of PSA tests a personal one

Prostate cancer kills more than 20,000 men every year. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force gave prostate-specific antigen testing and its attendant (and not much fun) rectal examination a flunking grade. “The USPSTF recommends against PSA testing,” the task force wrote, “as there is a moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.” Read more

Ask Doctor K: Shoulder pain treated with ice, medication

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have pain in my shoulder when I raise my arm above my head. My doctor says it’s caused by “impingement.” What does that mean, and what can I do about it? DEAR READER: You know the wide variety of things your shoulder allows you to do – such as reach for a box of cereal, swing a golf club and wash your hair. However, the design of a joint that lets you do all of that also leaves the joint vulnerable to injury. Read more

House Call: Condition common in babies can have underlying cause

You may recall from my column on sickle cell disease that it is normal for your red blood cells to live 90 to 120 days and then die. As your body breaks down dead red blood cells, one of the byproducts of this degradation is bilirubin. Red blood cells are always dying and being replaced, so it is normal to have some bilirubin in your body at all times. But if you’re making bilirubin faster than usual or clearing it from your body slower than usual, it can build up in your blood. This buildup is called hyperbilirubinemia. If you have had a baby, it is possible that your newborn developed hyperbilirubinemia. The most noticeable symptom is jaundice, yellowish skin, caused when there is enough bilirubin in the blood that it starts to accumulate in other parts of the body like the skin. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Removing appendix has no negative health effects

DEAR DOCTOR K: Why do doctors remove the appendix when someone has appendicitis? Don’t we need this organ? DEAR READER: Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. This small, fingerlike tube hangs from the lower right side of the large intestine. It usually becomes inflamed because of an infection or blockage. The condition is quite common; it affects one in every 500 people in the United States each year. Read more

‘Sick Idiot’ author keeps a sense of humor about chronic illness

Pittsburgh-based author, blogger, health coach, public speaker and advocate Ashley Boynes-Shuck has not let much get in the way of her life – not even the list of nearly 40 chronic ailments of her medical history. Her latest book, “Sick Idiot” (a term Boynes-Shuck uses to describe her particularly difficult days), is an easy read with a motivating message. With frequent metaphors and a smattering of cliches, Boynes-Shuck exposes the world of chronic illness with plenty of wit to go around. Her blogging background is evident in the casual language and approachable style (see www.abshuck.com). Poignant and honest, she invites readers to share her experiences. Thanks to humorous anecdotes and heavy doses of sarcasm, Boynes-Shuck balances out the heavy weight of her medical nightmares. She recounts the lowest lows of living with a lifelong disease. She also celebrates the highest highs of living. Read more

People’s Pharmacy: Lotion’s acidity neutralizes jalapeno burn

Q. I de-seeded 15 jalapenos without using gloves, so of course afterward my hands were burning. My daughter-in-law said that her grandfather had always told her to apply “something creamy,” so I rubbed on some AmLactin I normally use for dry skin. The burning stopped almost immediately! I hope you will share this tip with your other readers. Read more

Seeking solutions to allergy symptoms

Stuffy nose? Itchy eyes? Mucus going down the back of the throat? If you’re prone to wheezing, perhaps you’re experiencing a wheeze or two? Or three? Or four? Or maybe you’re just tired and miserable all the time at this time of year? Of course, you know what I’m talking about: allergies. They come with the season, just like mosquitoes and those pesky flies. Read more

CDC’s epidemic predictor makes estimates, courts controversy

ATLANTA – Last fall, when Martin Meltzer calculated that 1.4 million people might contract Ebola in West Africa, the world paid attention. This was, he said, a worst-case scenario. But Meltzer is the most famous disease modeler for the nation’s pre-eminent public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His estimate was promoted at high-level international meetings. It rallied nations to step up their efforts to fight the disease. Read more

Say goodbye to yesterday’s iffy dental implants

An apple a day may keep the doctor away for most people, but for Jolanta Garbarz, one bite of an apple used to send her straight to her dentist’s chair. “My teeth would break,” Garbarz said. Read more

House Call: Umbilical cord blood may be worth banking

Stem cells are amazing. They have the ability to become any other cell. Adults have a few of these cells, but newborns have many. These stem cells can be harvested from the blood in an infant’s umbilical cord, from the umbilical cord itself, and from the placenta. Stem cells have been the focus of a lot of research, and most of that research has been done on stem cells from umbilical cord blood. If you are pregnant, you may have heard about freezing your child’s umbilical cord blood after birth. Some parents choose to do this as a form of family health insurance. That’s because stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat 80 conditions (a big leap from 1998 when they were used for only one). This includes 10 kinds of cancer, mostly leukemias and lymphomas; 16 kinds of bone marrow failure syndrome; 8 blood disorders; 17 metabolic disorders; 19 types of immunodeficiency; and four other conditions. More therapeutic possibilities are on the horizon. Be aware, though, that treatment does not always work. Read more

Chronic migraine sufferers may benefit from cosmetic surgery

Bryan Kirsch knew something was wrong when the stairs moved. After roughhousing with his children in 2011, he was walking upstairs with one when, he remembered, “I look up the stairs, and the whole world is spinning.” Read more

Ask Doctor K: ‘Natural’ options not always the best treatment for high cholesterol

DEAR DOCTOR K: My cholesterol is high and my doctor wants me to go on a statin. I’d like to avoid medication. Do any supplements effectively lower cholesterol? DEAR READER: Statin drugs lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and also reduce inflammation. Together, these effects lower your risk of heart attack. Read more

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