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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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On Your Health’s Paster comes to Spokane

Public radio’s renowned family doctor, Zorba Paster, visits Spokane on Thursday to talk about living a longer, sweeter life while answering audience questions about their personal health conundrums. But the truth is, the good doc and host of the popular national call-in show “Zorba Paster On Your Health” is eager for a burger and malt from Dick’s Hamburgers – Spokane’s iconic burger joint on Third Avenue. He remembers it from his past visit to Spokane and a visit to Seattle. He thinks he even owns an old blue work shirt from Dick’s Hamburgers.

Doctors say shortage looms in Idaho

BOISE – Idaho ranks 49th in the nation for its number of doctors per capita, and many of the state’s current doctors are expected to retire in the next few years. What’s more, the state, which has no medical school, is lagging on training new ones.

Ask Dr. K: Three treatment options for hyperthyroidism

DEAR DOCTOR K: What are the treatment options for hyperthyroidism? Can you discuss the pros and cons of each one? DEAR READER: The thyroid gland in your neck makes thyroid hormone. This chemical circulates in the blood and affects the functioning of every cell in your body. It is essential for life, but you need to have just the right amount circulating, not too much and not too little.

Ask Dr. K: ‘Placebo effect’ can stimulate natural healing

DEAR DOCTOR K: In previous columns you’ve mentioned something called the “placebo effect.” Can you explain what that means? DEAR READER: We used to think the placebo effect was imaginary. Today, I think the evidence indicates otherwise: It’s an example of our remarkable powers of self-healing.

Ask Dr. K: No drug made to treat functional dyspepsia

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor says I have “functional dyspepsia.” Medications haven’t helped. Could something more serious be wrong? DEAR READER: Dyspepsia is a medical term for persistent upper abdominal pain or discomfort. When doctors use the word “functional,” they mean that there is no identifiable cause for the problem. By this definition, the majority of people with dyspepsia may have functional dyspepsia.

Dr. K: Low heart rate normal on athletes

DEAR DOCTOR K: Last time I went to the doctor, my heart rate was 55 beats per minute. What could be causing my slow heartbeat? Is it dangerous? DEAR READER: A normal heart rate at rest is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A slow heart rate, of less than 60 beats per minute, is called bradycardia. You have just a slight bradycardia.

Ask Dr. K: Modify toddler’s diet and habits to treat constipation

DEAR DOCTOR K: My toddler has frequent constipation, and I have been giving him milk of magnesia about once a week. Is there any risk with this over-the-counter medicine? DEAR READER: I’d suggest speaking to your pediatrician or family physician before continuing to give your son milk of magnesia.

Doctor K: Right exercise may relieve knee pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have knee osteoarthritis. Are there exercises that could relieve my pain? DEAR READER: As a fellow sufferer, I know that joint pain from osteoarthritis can really interfere with life. Since putting pressure on the joint can make it hurt more, you might think that exercises would only make the pain worse, and so you might be tempted to avoid exercising altogether. But limiting your movements can weaken muscles, worsening your joint trouble. In contrast, the right set of exercises can be a long-lasting way to tame your knee pain.

Ask Dr. K: Most eye ‘floaters’ are a harmless nuisance

DEAR DOCTOR K: At 65, I have begun to notice tiny threadlike shapes in my vision. My doctor calls them “floaters.” Should I be concerned? DEAR READER: “Floaters” describes the dots, threads or cobwebs that we notice drifting across our line of vision as we get older. You’re more likely to notice floaters when you are looking at a page of a book, a computer screen or a solid, light background. Floaters move as your eye moves and dart away when you try to look at them.

Doctor K: Diabetes not only cause of neuropathy

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have peripheral neuropathy. I know that people with diabetes often get neuropathy, but I’m not diabetic. What else can cause this condition? And what can I do about it? DEAR READER: Neuropathy is a medical term that means nerve damage. The type of nerve damage that people with diabetes get involves specific nerve fibers in all nerves, particularly the nerves that travel to the legs and feet.

Ask Dr. K: Brown fat cells better than white

DEAR DOCTOR K: In a recent column about abdominal fat, you talked about two kinds of fat – brown fat and white fat. I’d like to hear more about them. DEAR READER: I’m glad you asked, because the discovery of these two types of fat could prove to be very important. In the column you’re referring to, I discussed how visceral, or abdominal, fat (which accumulates deep inside the abdomen) is more harmful to our health than subcutaneous fat (the fat just beneath the skin). But when it comes to fat, it’s not just location that matters. Color counts, too – and brown is better.

Doctor K: Medications may help smokers quit

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve tried to quit smoking on my own, but it never lasts. Could medications help? How do they work? DEAR READER: Medicines can help, and they have improved “quit rates.” Although smoking is a particularly hard habit to break, you can do it. The proof: There are more ex-smokers in the United States today than there are smokers.

Doctor K: High-heels may cause neuroma

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have pain in the ball of my foot. My doctor thinks it is caused by a Morton’s neuroma. How did I get this, and what can I do about it? DEAR READER: Morton’s neuroma is a swelling of the nerve between the bones at the base of the toes in the ball of the foot. The pain it causes usually is in one spot. It can feel like you have a pebble in your shoe. Once the nerve starts to swell, the nearby bones and ligaments put pressure on the nerve, worsening the irritation and inflammation.

Doctor K: Tips on talking about sex to teens

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’m the parent of a teenage girl. I know it’s time to talk to her about sex, and I’d appreciate any advice. DEAR READER: Many parents feel anxious or uncomfortable talking with their children about sex. But remember that if you don’t, somebody else will.

Doctor K: Stomach growl may not signal hunger

DEAR DOCTOR K: Why does my stomach sometimes make growling noises? DEAR READER: Stomach noises happen in everyone, although they seem to plague some people more than others. It happens all the time: I’m examining a patient, his or her stomach growls, and I say, “Time for lunch?” I assume it means the patient is hungry.

Doctor K: Eating more meat linked to diabetes

DEAR DOCTOR K: My wife has read that eating red meat increases the risk of diabetes. Is this true? DEAR READER: You’ve heard for a long time that limiting the amount of red meat – especially processed foods with red meat, such as salami – reduces your risk of heart disease. The evidence for that is very strong.

Doctor K: Diabetes study offers mixed results

DEAR DOCTOR K: I just heard on the radio that some study says that intensive diet and exercise don’t decrease heart disease risk in diabetics. Is this true? DEAR READER: I assume ou’re referring to results from the recently publicized Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial. The results of this study were reported in June.