Using sight and sound to trigger dementia patients’ memories

The old-fashioned rooms are in the dementia wing of the elder-care facility and serve an important function. They’re intended to make residents feel at home, help them retrieve memories and get them talking about their younger selves. Read more

Latest stories

Our ancestors were just as sleep-deprived as we are, scientists say

If you ever wish you could live in a simpler time when the pressures of modern life didn’t make you feel sleep-deprived, scientists have two words for you: Dream on. Read more

Gene editing: Research spurs debate over promise vs. ethics

The hottest tool in biology has scientists using words like revolutionary as they describe the long-term potential: wiping out certain mosquitoes that carry malaria, treating genetic diseases like sickle-cell, preventing babies from inheriting a life-threatening disorder. Read more

Tips to keep your child’s trip to the ER from being too traumatic

A trip to the emergency room is never on the agenda. If you ever find yourself taking your child for emergency medical care, you need to know what to expect and how to be prepared. Read more

Meeting of the minds, literally: Brain experiment could boost medicine

Brain scientists at the University of Washington have used an old-fashioned parlor game in a novel way to prove that two people’s brains can be linked across the Internet – an experiment that sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a science-fiction novel. Read more

Zorba Paster: The risks of sitting

A trainer’s comments about sitting being ‘the new smoking’ are proving to be spot on. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Foods, drugs contribute to gassy belly

DEAR DOCTOR K: All my adult life I’ve had a tendency to pass a lot of gas. It’s unpleasant for me and for others. What can I do about it? DEAR READER: All human beings pass gas to some extent. That’s because all of us have gas (mostly swallowed air) in the digestive tract. Along with the air you swallow, the bacteria that live in your gut also produce gas − up to two quarts a day. Read more

Quinine in tonic cured cramps

Q. I have had severe leg cramps for years. My doctor used to prescribe quinine until the Food and Drug Administration banned it for that use. My pain got so bad, I finally gave in and went to the doctor last week. She ran a lot of tests and then told me to drink two glasses of tonic water with added lime slices daily. Read more

Zorba Paster: Pain in the back can be a pain in the …

Dear Doc: Please help me. Several months ago I was lifting about 40 pounds, a bag of salt for my water softener. I did it right – bent my legs, kept my back straight. I do this all the time. But the backache I got was a terrific one. Now, look, I’m a fit 50. I have a desk job, but I work out three times a week, most of the time thinking of myself as a fit 20-something, until I look in the mirror. Read more

Study: Diagnostic errors occur too often, urgent improvement needed

WASHINGTON – Most people will experience at least one wrong or delayed diagnosis at some point in their lives, a blind spot in modern medicine that can have devastating consequences, says a new report that calls for urgent changes across health care. Getting the right diagnosis, at the right time, is crucial, but last week’s Institute of Medicine report found diagnostic errors get too little attention. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Prevent tooth decay with hygiene, diet

DEAR DOCTOR K: What is tooth decay, and how does it happen? DEAR READER: Tooth decay is a disease of the mouth that can lead to cavities and infection. But before we start talking about sick teeth, let’s talk about healthy teeth. Read more

People’s Pharmacy: Can antidepressants trigger violence?

Q. I am 30 years old and have been taking fluoxetine. I was prescribed this last year because I attempted to take my own life. I have noticed that my behavior, though no longer suicidal, is increasingly irrational. I get explosively angry at the smallest of things and struggle daily to control my temper toward my husband. Read more

Farewell: A new doctor will see you now

In the summer of 2009 I began this column for The Spokesman-Review. Of course, I did not know then all that would happen in the following six years. Since then I had cancer and went through extensive cancer treatment. I returned to work in family practice and as faculty of the second-year program of the University of Washington medical school in Spokane. And I gave lectures about family practice in other countries. In my personal life, my husband and I have been raising our daughter with every bit of energy we have. During the time I have been doing this column, I have experienced the response of readers. Some have come to be my patients, or stopped me in stores and restaurants or written letters to my office. These things and much more have happened as a result of what has been written here. I am grateful I’ve had the opportunity to affect so many in this way. It has meant a lot to me to be able to do this. The support I have received from Group Health and from all of you has been amazing. Read more

Parents heed advice to expose kids to peanuts

SEATTLE – It may look like just another lunch, but when 11-month-old Reese Couty bites into a peanut-butter sandwich at her Renton home, it’s nothing less than revolutionary. The wispy-haired toddler is at high risk for food allergies, after having severe eczema as a newborn and a scary reaction the first time her mom fed her scrambled eggs. Read more

Eat fish, or take fish oil supplements?

(This column is an update of one that ran originally in December 2013.) DEAR DOCTOR K: Heart disease runs in my family. Should I eat fish, or take fish oil supplements? Read more

Cell transplant helps diabetic woman

MIAMI – After living with Type 1 diabetes for more than two decades, Wendy Peacock was used to the constant daily juggling act of monitoring her blood sugar, taking insulin and paying attention to everything she ate. But in recent weeks she was able to stop taking her insulin after doctors transplanted new cells in her as part of a clinical trial at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at UHealth – University of Miami Health System. Read more

Researchers work on single shot to cover all flu strains

Two groups of American researchers recently announced progress in their efforts to create a single flu vaccine. The goal is to find a universal vaccine that will offer broader coverage against all types of influenza each season. It’s possible such a vaccine would even provide long-term protection, preparing our immune systems to fight off the flu for many seasons. The challenge in developing such a vaccine has been the flu virus’s ability to mutate quickly. Even slight changes to a virus may interfere with our body’s ability to control it before it makes us sick. This newly reported single vaccine research focuses on a protein called hemagglutinin, which all influenza virus strains have in common. Read more

Six local residents share weight-loss success stories

More than a third of adults in the U.S. have a body mass index that puts them in the “obese” category. About two-thirds of adult Americans are either obese or overweight, according to a new study released this summer.   If you’re among them, don’t give up. That’s the advice of a half-dozen local residents who’ve managed to lose a lot of weight – from 70 to more than 300 pounds. Read more

Headache ‘diary’ can help doctor

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve made an appointment to see a doctor because of my frequent headaches. What is likely to happen at the appointment? DEAR READER: Your appointment is likely to begin with a series of questions about your headaches. If you think about your answers to these questions in advance of the visit, it will help both you and your doctor. For example: Read more

Live KSPS broadcast will shine light on teen suicide

Five months have passed since the last known suicides by students in the Spokane Public School district, but the conversation in some parts of the community quietly continues. Five students, including three in a one-month span, took their lives in the 2014-15 school year, the highest number in the history of the school district. Read more

Insect bites can do much more than bug you

Bug bites are an itchy nuisance, but they are also potentially life threatening – especially for people with damaged immune systems, children and the elderly. This is not just a problem in other countries where there is malaria. Mosquitoes here in the Northwest can carry West Nile virus, western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. All of these can cause brain swelling, confusion and fevers. Additional diseases carried by mosquitoes in other regions of the United States include eastern equine encephalitis, California encephalitis and (rarely) malaria. In Yosemite Valley in California, you also need to protect yourself from flea bites, which can carry the bubonic plague. Read more

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