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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

Ask Dr. K: Prevent MRSA with good hygiene

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is MRSA? What makes it so dangerous? DEAR READER: We have a brain, and bacteria don’t. So you’d think bacteria wouldn’t be able to outsmart us. But they sure can figure out ways to become resistant to the antibiotics we use to kill them. Read more

Doctors treating more children with kidney stones

PITTSBURGH – The first time the reddish color appeared in Bella’s urine, Loren Carroto blamed the ice pops her daughter had eaten at a birthday party. But the discoloration returned intermittently. It turned out to be blood, not food coloring, and the diagnosis was one affecting a growing number of children: kidney stones. Read more

Flu kills 14 in region; precautions urged

The flu has put 249 people into Spokane hospitals and is blamed for 10 deaths this season – including four in the past week. The numbers are higher than last year, as the virus has been toughest on people older than 60 – especially those in their 80s, according to data from the Spokane Regional Health District. Read more

House Call: Pap test important for cervical health

Women have become accustomed to Pap smears being a necessary part of adulthood. However, there has been confusion in recent years about when women should begin having this screening test, how often to have one and when to stop having them. Because January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, it is a good time to talk about the many different steps, including Pap smear, you can take to stay healthy and reduce your risk of cervical cancer. A Pap smear is performed with a small brush that looks like a long mascara brush. Cells are brushed from the cervix (the opening of the uterus) and sent to a lab to determine if there are any precancerous or cancerous changes. Read more

Healing body, mind, spirit

Jill Ciccarello’s sister died of cancer. Lorrie Stonehocker’s husband is still battling cancer that has caused him to lose organs, including part of his stomach, as the chemo is shutting down his kidneys. Yet these cancer nightmares have inspired both Spokane women to help other cancer patients through yoga – the ancient practice that encompasses the physical, mental and spiritual. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Keep salt intake low for heart health

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have high blood pressure, and my doctor advised me to cut back on salt. Can you explain how salt affects blood pressure? DEAR READER: Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, loss of vision and other health problems. Many studies show that blood pressure rises with a higher-salt diet. Read more

Activities help babies develop motor skills

SEATTLE – Just about the time McKenna Smith reached the age of 6 months, her parents noticed something odd. Their perky baby could grasp a table and stand, but she couldn’t sit. Whenever she tried to crawl, her belly would brush the floor. She used predominantly her left side. Read more

Study tracks opioid use among women age 15 to 44

MILWAUKEE – Narcotic painkillers – which can cause birth defects – commonly were prescribed for women of reproductive age, according to new data presented Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research, which looked at the years 2008-2012, found that 39 percent of women age 15 to 44 on Medicaid and 28 percent of those on private insurance received an opioid prescription. Read more

Vegetarian, vegan diets aid weight loss, research shows

Evidence that vegetables are good for you abounds. And here’s more: Researchers who analyzed studies of people put on vegetarian or vegan diets found that they lost more than 7 pounds regardless of calorie counting or exercise plans. The study published Thursday in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics comes as many people are trying to stick to – or already have abandoned – New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Abdominal adhesions may cause pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: I had abdominal surgery last year. Soon after, I started experiencing severe pain and swelling in my abdomen. It turns out I have abdominal adhesions. I’d never heard of them. What are they, and how are they treated? DEAR READER: Abdominal adhesions are bands of fibrous scar tissue. They can cause organs that are normally not connected to stick to one another or to the wall of the abdomen. Read more

Doctor K: Testicular cancer one of curable kinds

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m in my 30s. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. What should I know about this cancer? Should I be screened for it? DEAR READER: Testicular cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both testicles (testes). Nearly all testicular cancers start in germ cells. These are the cells that make sperm. Read more

Popular downtown hot dog vendor dies of flu

Chad Rattray, a hot dog vendor who helped keep downtown Spokane fed from outside the front of the Bank of America building, died Tuesday from flu complications. Read more

Zorba Paster: Eating fish provides health boost

If you take fish oil every day for your heart, then pay attention. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows it’s a dud. It’s not worth the money you’re paying. I, for one, am disappointed. I’ve been swallowing these super large capsules for years assuming I’ll have a stronger heart and live longer. Every time I had a fish oil burp, I thought, “Good for me. Good for my heart. I can take it.” Read more

Researchers discover brain-specific protein that could help fight flu

Battling the flu could someday be as much as about inhaling some extra brain protein as reaching for another tissue. Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane have discovered that a brain-specific protein called AcPb speeds recovery in lab mice by promoting the healing power of sleep. In mice that lack the protein, symptoms were more severe and they died at higher rates. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Have teeth checked twice yearly

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. Read more

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