A brighter outlook: UW researchers make inroads on cure for colorblindness

SEATTLE – For the more than 10 million Americans with colorblindness, there’s never been a treatment, let alone a cure, for the condition that leaves them unable to distinguish certain hues. Now, for the first time, two University of Washington professors have teamed with a … Read more

Latest stories

Some foods can hurt bone health

DEAR DOCTOR K: I am at increased risk for osteoporosis. Are there any foods or drinks I should avoid? DEAR READER: Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening condition that increases your risk of fractures. Though your bones may seem unchanging, they are continuously being broken down and rebuilt. Osteoporosis occurs when more bone is broken down than is rebuilt. Read more

Tai chi painful on generic Celebrex

Q. I’ve been a longtime user of Celebrex. Then my pharmacy gave me the generic. After the first week, I had pain all over and found I could do fewer and fewer things I’ve always found easy. My hour of tai chi was nearly impossible. Read more

Stories of female surgeons shared in new anthology

BALTIMORE – Some speak of being nine months pregnant and resting their bulging bellies on top of operating tables so they can lean in close enough to slice into patients. Others worry that the grueling surgical residency period – which can last as long as six years and which generally occurs during a woman’s peak child-bearing period – will prevent them from becoming mothers. Read more

Quelling vaccine fear in Spokane’s Russian-speaking community

Earlier this month about 20 people from Spokane’s Russian-speaking community gathered to talk – in Russian – about the fear and reluctance to vaccinate their children for diseases such as hepatitis B, measles, mumps, polio and pertussis. Russian-speaking communities in Washington have the lowest childhood immunization rates of any population, a consistent pattern since about 2008, according to a study conducted by the state Department of Health in 2012. Read more

Important to know symptoms, risks of TB

You may think that tuberculosis is a disease you do not have to worry about. While it is far less common here than in the rest of the world – where an estimated one-third of the population is infected – there were still around 10,000 cases in the United States in 2013. Long before TB was well understood, it was called “consumption” due to the weight loss and weakness it causes. People with active TB were sent to sanitariums to rest, breathe fresh air and hope their bodies could fight off the disease. Read more

Plain, low fat yogurt, fruit good for you

DEAR READER: You’ve heard me talk frequently about “good” and “bad” fats, and “good” and “bad” carbs. So it won’t be surprising when I say there are “good” yogurts and “bad” yogurts. Here’s what I mean. Yogurt – plain, low-fat yogurt – is a healthy food. But many yogurt products contain ingredients you could do without, like added sweeteners. So let’s talk about what to look for in a healthy yogurt. Read more

Active approach to back pain

After he had battled lower back pain for three months with hot showers, analgesic heat rubs and heating pads, it finally happened. Chris Roth awoke one morning barely able to move. This was a huge problem for Roth. As owner of Steel City Ballroom in a Pittsburgh suburb, he teaches the trademark hip-shaking and body-twisting steps of ballroom dancing. “I canceled my lessons,” said Roth, 44. “I’d had back pain but not like that. This was the most extreme pain. That’s when I couldn’t push through it.” Read more

Soft, adorable, lovable, but also very dangerous

Remember, don’t nuzzle and kiss those cute fuzzy chicks, ducklings and bunnies filling farm and pet stores in anticipation of spring and Easter. Although soft, adorable and loveable, these babies often carry salmonella bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Go ahead and pet them, but always – always – wash your hands with warm water and soap immediately afterward, warns Steve Main of the Spokane Regional Health District. Kissing and face snuggles aren’t suggested because that just makes it too easy for fecal matter to get in your mouth. Read more

Pest prevention

As a mild winter has given way to an early spring, sunny, warm days may have people opening cabins, cleaning barns, garages and sheds, and hiking through tall grass much sooner than is typical. Pesky, disease-spreading critters might appear earlier than normal, too. The biggest ones to watch for are deer mice and ticks. There’s been a few anecdotal reports of ticks in Spokane and North Idaho, but the Spokane Regional Health District hasn’t gotten anything official. Read more

Flossing key to putting plaque in its place

‘You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” I can still hear that jingle from the 1950s. My mom taught me, like your mom did, to brush my teeth every day, morning and night. Since we started daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, we’ve dramatically cut down tooth decay. Add to this water fluoridation in some parts of the country and good dental care and you have a dental miracle. (Interesting fact: Tooth decay was the number one reason for turning down Army volunteers in World War I.) Read more

Ask Dr. K: Treat stress fractures quickly

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is a stress fracture? DEAR READER: In young people, stress fractures can result from overexertion or prolonged high-impact exercise, such as running or tennis. But they also occur in middle-aged or elderly people, especially women, with thinning bones. These people may develop stress fractures even as a result of normal daily activities, such as walking. Read more

House Call: Genetic testing can boost health awareness

Shortly after my diagnosis with breast cancer in 2010, I completed genetic testing to determine if I carried the mutated BRCA 1 or 2 gene that increases risk of breast and other cancers. I was tested because of my age, the aggressiveness of my tumor and my family history. Not everyone who has breast cancer needs or should have this kind of testing. This is an example of genetic testing done on adults. Scientists think each of us has about 30,000 to 35,000 genes. Genes are the sections of DNA in our cells that provide instructions to make proteins in our bodies. They are responsible for determining everything from hair color to our risk of certain diseases. Read more

‘Yips’ a funny name, but a serious problem for athletes

The ball was a mere 5 feet from the hole, but when Chey Castro raised his putter for what should have been a clean shot, his hand spasmed and he missed the putt that would have won him $180 at the tournament. “I know I’m good and I know I can make these putts,” says Castro in a call from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I used to always make them and never had an issue.” Read more

Ask Dr. K: Drug-free therapy cuts menses pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: Can you recommend drug-free ways to relieve menstrual pain and cramping? DEAR READER: Most women experience pain and cramping known as dysmenorrhea during menstruation. For some women, the pain is so severe that it causes them to miss work and social events. Some doctors don’t regard menstrual pain as a “serious” problem. But any symptom that interferes with your personal or work life needs to be attended to and not dismissed. Read more

Seeking secrets from Idaho sagebrush

Carolyn Dadabay is a drug prospector. She’s searching for chemical compounds that will boost the effectiveness of medicines like those used to attack cancer cells in chemotherapy. Read more

House Call: Finding answers from congenital heart defect

Congenital heart defects are the most common kinds of birth defects, affecting 8 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States. These structural problems with the heart can be discovered before a child is born using ultrasound, soon after birth, during childhood or teen years, and sometimes not until adulthood. How early they are discovered usually depends on how severe the defect is. Ultrasound, electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, blood tests, physical exam, medical history and family history can be used to diagnose heart defects. Sometimes other additional tests are needed. In infants, congenital heart defect can cause blue coloration, very low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, feeding problems or poor weight gain. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Bone marrow can save a life

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have leukemia. Thankfully, a family member was a bone marrow match. Can you tell me what to expect during my bone marrow transplant procedure? DEAR READER: A bone marrow transplant can be a life-saving treatment. To understand how it works, you need to understand how blood cells are created. And what leukemia is. Read more

Peanut ‘patch’ protection

A skin patch that experts say could be a breakthrough treatment for peanut-allergy sufferers appears to be both safe and effective, according to an early stage clinical trial that involved Seattle-area children, among others, to test the potentially lifesaving technology. The Viaskin Peanut patch made by the French biotech firm DBV Technologies boosted the amount of peanut protein it took to elicit an allergic reaction by at least 10-fold, particularly in kids younger than 12. Read more

Cardiologists urge caution with daily aspirin regimen

At Martin O’Riordan’s cardiology practice in the Philadelphia area, it happens weekly. A 45- or 50-year-old patient mentions that her father had a heart attack at the same age. Worried that the same fate will befall her despite being in good health, she takes baby aspirin every day. Read more

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

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