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DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m a 42-year-old woman. This year I’ve had four urinary tract infections. Each cleared up with antibiotics. But now my doctor wants me to take a preventive antibiotic every day. Is this safe?
DEAR DOCTOR K: My teenage son plays several school sports. He loves them, but I’m concerned about sports injuries. DEAR READER: That’s not a reason to prohibit your son from playing sports, but it is a good reason to make sure he plays safely. Many sports injuries can be avoided, and there’s a lot that you – and your son – can do to help him stay safe.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I just turned 40, and I have finally accepted that I need to make regular exercise part of my life. I’m in pretty good physical shape, if slightly overweight. How much exercise do I need to stay healthy and maybe drop a few pounds?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I have an aunt whose house is filled to the ceiling with junk in some places. I worry about her safety navigating around all that stuff. I think she is a hoarder. What causes this, and how can I help her? DEAR READER: If your aunt’s house has become so filled with “stuff” that she can’t get around easily, I’m inclined to agree with you. She may indeed suffer from compulsive hoarding. Hoarders accumulate objects of questionable value in large and disorganized amounts.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I always thought chewing gum was bad for my teeth. But then a friend told me it actually helps prevent cavities. Who’s right?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m plagued by frequent migraines. I take medications to treat the migraines once they’ve started, but I’d rather prevent them in the first place. Any suggestions?
DEAR DOCTOR K: Although some members of my family have heart disease, I haven’t been diagnosed with it. I know people with current cardiovascular problems should take aspirin, but should I be taking it to prevent future problems? DEAR READER: Your question seems simple enough. I wish I had a simple answer. The problem is that aspirin, like virtually all medical treatments, has benefits and risks. The main risk of aspirin is bleeding. But for people who have heart disease, regularly taking low-dose aspirin definitely reduces the risk of heart attacks in the future. The benefits and risks are different for one person than for another.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I am two months pregnant. I can’t decide what to do about getting the flu shot. What are your thoughts?
DEAR DOCTOR. K: As I’ve gotten older I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I’m retired, so I have the time to take an afternoon nap. But I’m worried that if I sleep during the day, I’ll have even more trouble sleeping at night. What do you think?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I sweat a lot, particularly on my forehead, when I get nervous. This is especially true when I’m about to meet new people. It’s very embarrassing. Any suggestions?
DEAR DOCTOR K: Until recently, I had never noticed coconut oil in the grocery store. Now it seems I can’t avoid it. Is it true that it’s better for you than other cooking oils?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I had my hair chemically straightened six months ago. I love the way it looks, but I’m worried that hair-straightening products may not be safe. I hear they contain formaldehyde. DEAR READER: You’re right to be concerned. Chemical hair-straightening products pose more of a risk than you may think.
DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband refuses to throw out pills that are past their expiration date. I think this is dangerous. I hope you’ll convince him to clean out his medicine cabinet!
DEAR DOCTOR K: My mother’s hands are shaking more than usual lately. She has made an appointment with her doctor, but in the meantime, can you tell me if shaking is always a sign of something serious like Parkinson’s disease?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I pass a lot of gas. It’s bad enough when I’m alone, but it’s absolutely mortifying when I have to pass gas in public. What can I do? DEAR READER: It’s normal to have air in the digestive tract. Some gets there when you swallow it, and some is produced during digestion. Your body normally produces up to two quarts of gas a day. This air moves in your digestive tract along with food and waste products. Eventually it needs to be expelled to prevent painful stretching of the stomach and intestine.
State health officials have withdrawn drug charges against Spokane dermatologist Dr. William P. Werschler. The move effectively clears Werschler of wrongdoing. “The evidence just wasn’t there” said Bill Etter, the attorney who represented Werschler against claims of drug use, falsifying records and providing narcotics without legitimate medical reasons.
Dr. Cheryle Hart has closed her hormone therapy practice. The Spokane Valley physician ran Hormones by Hart and recruited thousands of women to attend her seminars across several states. Her personal and professional financial problems resulted in lawsuits and bank account garnishments and were exacerbated by reprimands and licensure problems in three states.