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DEAR DOCTOR K: You recently discussed hip replacement in your column. Shouldn’t the option of hip resurfacing have been part of the discussion? DEAR READER: In the column you’re referring to, a reader in his 50s asked how to time his hip replacement. I advised him to find a balance: “Operate too soon, and you’ll increase your chance of revision surgery; wait too long, and you’ll subject yourself to additional months and years of pain.” What I told him was correct. I didn’t mention an additional option, hip resurfacing, because in my opinion, its long-term success is untested.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m under a lot of stress from my job. I’ve heard that a technique called “breath focus” might help. Can you tell me more about this?
DEAR DOCTOR K: What are the risks of lead poisoning? How can we protect our daughter from it? DEAR READER: Lead is poison. Although major strides have been made in the past 50 years, lead poisoning is, unfortunately, still a problem. All of us are exposed to lead, but children are most vulnerable to it.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I have a keloid on my shoulder that makes me very self-conscious. Are there treatments other than surgery? DEAR READER: Keloids are raised overgrowths of scar tissue that usually appear at the site of a skin injury. They are harmless and do not become cancerous. But once a keloid develops, it won’t go away unless it is removed or treated. Unfortunately, none of the existing treatments give completely satisfying results. What’s more, keloids that have been removed or treated often return.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently heard about a new diet to manage IBS. Can you tell me about it? DEAR READER: Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder. Symptoms include cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I was a sun worshipper in my teens. Now, in my 60s, my skin is paying for it. Is it possible to reverse signs of sun damage?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Can you explain how diabetes affects vision? DEAR READER: Both of the common types of diabetes, Type 1 (which usually begins in childhood) and Type 2 (which usually begins in adulthood), can affect vision in several ways. After 20 years of having Type 2 diabetes, most people have eye problems. But the risk can be reduced, as I’ll explain.
DEAR DOCTOR K: Many herbs, vitamins and supplements claim to boost energy. Do any of them actually work? DEAR READER: Unfortunately, there is not much scientific evidence to support the claims. Here is my best current assessment of the published evidence:
DEAR DOCTOR K: My child stutters. Why does he do this? What can we do to help him? DEAR READER: I remember the first time I met someone who stuttered. He was a playmate when I was in grade school, whose parents knew my parents. I never heard him say the words “mother” or “father.” It was always “m-m-m-mother” or “f-f-f-father.”
DEAR DOCTOR K: I take several medications for Type 2 diabetes. How can I tell if I’m becoming hypoglycemic? And what should I do if I am? DEAR READER: Like you, many people with diabetes take medications to avoid high blood sugar. The medicines are very effective in preventing or lowering high blood sugar levels.
DEAR DOCTOR K: My son thinks sports and energy drinks will help his athletic performance. But are these drinks safe for teens? DEAR READER: I don’t think children and teens should drink either sports or energy drinks – and neither does the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately, these products are often marketed directly to children and adolescents.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I know breakfast is important, but in our house we only have time for cereal. How can I make sure to at least choose a healthy one? DEAR READER: You’re right to make breakfast a priority, no matter how busy your mornings. A good breakfast can help you concentrate, maintain the right weight and get the nutrients you need to stay well. And the right cereal is a very healthy, and quick, breakfast.
DEAR DOCTOR K: My dark skin makes my vitiligo very noticeable. Steroid creams haven’t helped. I’ve heard that light therapy might be an option. DEAR READER: Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches of skin to appear on the body. The patches are more obvious in dark-skinned people. Vitiligo usually appears when people are in their 20s or 30s.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m a vegan. I just found out I have a vitamin B-12 deficiency. How is this treated? DEAR READER: Vitamin B-12 deficiency is common in vegans, and fortunately it’s easy to treat. Vitamin B-12 is needed by many tissues in the body, especially the brain and spinal cord, and the bone marrow where blood cells are made.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently ate shrimp and broke out in hives. This has never happened before. Could I have developed a new food allergy as an adult? DEAR READER: Yes, you can, and it’s not that unusual. Allergic reactions are overblown immune responses against a harmless substance – in some cases, a food. Food allergies are most prevalent in childhood, but even if you escaped them then, you’re not necessarily off the hook. You can develop allergies at any point in your life, and fish and shellfish allergies are more likely than others to begin in adulthood.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m bothered by numbness and tingling in my little finger and general weakness in my right hand. Could I have carpal tunnel syndrome? DEAR READER: Based on your description, I’d say you have cubital (not carpal) tunnel syndrome. Another name for this condition is ulnar neuropathy.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m trying to lose weight. How can I figure out how many calories I should be eating every day?
DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m 55 years old, and I’ve started seeing tiny black specks that move around in random directions. I’m worried that I may have an eye disease.