DEAR DR. ROACH: I've been taking calcium supplements for many years to assist in strengthening my bones. I'm 74, weigh less than 95 pounds and stand 5 feet tall. I'm on the verge of osteoporosis, and have been getting Evenity injections for almost a year. Now I'm hearing that calcium supplements may have no value. What's the truth? -- H.
DEAR DR. ROACH: At what point in COVID-19 does a person's do not resuscitate order become an issue? When does treatment become an "exceptional or extraordinary" effort? It would seem that organ transplants, if not coma/prolonged artificial ventilation would qualify. I have never seen anything on this issue. -- R.S.
ANSWER: A do not resuscitate ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Why aren't the hospitals nationwide mandating all personnel be COVID vaccinated? I am getting conflicting information. Don't you think the first-line people treating the ill, whether it is to check a patient in to the hospital or a nurse, should have their vaccine in order to work in the hospital? -- K.W.
ANSWER: More and more ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am confused about how HIPAA applies to my medical information. Some people are saying they don't have to tell people if they have been vaccinated or not or respond to an employer that is requiring the vaccine to go back to work or to businesses that may require vaccination for entry. I always thought HIPAA applied to doctors ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 78-year-old female, and I am in my 10th week of shingles. I have them on my left chest and back (at the bra line!) and on my upper arm. I can't go anywhere because I can't stand when my clothes or bra touches me. I now have severe shooting pains on my arm area, mostly at night but also during the day. The rash on my chest,...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: We know COVID-19 came from Wuhan, China. Where are the delta and other variants coming from? -- D.B.
ANSWER: COVID-19 was first described in Wuhan, China, although the exact mechanism of how the virus that causes COVID-19 (called SARS-CoV-2) came to infect humans is not known. Most authorities believe it evolved from a bat ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: How does one manage natural immunity to COVID-19 if one has an autoimmune disease? Does that person take vitamin D3, zinc, etc.? -- J.K.S.
ANSWER: "Natural immunity" refers to the protection that is conferred after a natural infection, as opposed to vaccination. Studies have shown that protection from infection following a case ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have been having colonoscopies regularly since 1990. I was due for one last year, but postponed due to COVID-19. My previous doctor had retired, and I found another physician who I thought would be excellent.
While on the bed, waiting to be moved to the procedure, the doctor came and sat down on one side of the bed. My other ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 79 years old, male and in good shape. The only medication I take is 20 mg of Lipitor daily. Approximately five years ago, I fell off a small ladder. The fall was caused because I lost my balance. From that time on, my balance has worsened. I notice that when I lose my balance, most of the time I fall backward. I consulted an...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 85 and in good health despite having had open heart surgery 10 years ago. I have been using a catheter three times a day for two years to drain urine, because my enlarged prostate distorts my bladder. It looks like I will use an intermittent catheter for the rest of my life. I am currently taking Flomax and finasteride, but ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Recently I was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency after symptoms of unexpected and sustained diarrhea for three months. I was also diagnosed with NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) last November. A year ago, I first noticed slight weight loss (5 pounds) and decreased energy. I am 69 years old, 6 foot, 2 inches...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My hairdresser is being evasive about whether she has been vaccinated for COVID. She does not wear a mask. I am vaccinated, and I want everyone else to be as well, to avoid more harmful strains of the disease. I'm 67 and have underlying conditions. Should I find a new hairdresser? -- Anon.
ANSWER: Being fully vaccinated means ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: About a year ago, my 77-year-old wife started to have some trouble speaking, and in some cases remembering or forming words. It's not so bad that you don't understand her and it's not constant. But it's there just the same. The family thought she may have had a TIA, as at the time she had been drinking quite a lot -- she has ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I need help with my mother's question (she's 86). She reports hearing glass breaking or being smashed. It's so loud that it wakes her out of her sleep. She looks around and never is there a glass broken. She says it's also a loud crashing noise, like something slamming up against a door. This only happens at night in her sleep. ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: What could precipitate a need to check an 83-year-old man's carotid arteries for blockage? What percentage of blockage would necessitate surgery? -- W.M.
ANSWER: There are two carotid arteries, running on either side of the neck, bringing blood to the head. They provide a great deal of the blood flow to the brain, and blockages ...Read more
ANSWER: I asked my colleague, Dr. Susana Morales, for her advice, and she wrote this:
"I am sorry that you have had such a frustrating experience with doctors. Finding the right doctor can definitely be challenging.
"It sounds like there may be a language barrier when you meet with doctors. It is your legal right to have a trained medical ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: If levothyroxine (the T4 hormone) has a long half-life (seven days), how does the pituitary gland provide fine control of the thyroid's T4 hormone during a short time period (minutes, hours)? If there is such fine control between the pituitary and thyroid, manually trying to simulate that feedback mechanism by taking one pill a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: What is heatstroke? I exercised a lot in the heat yesterday, and today I feel dizzy and nauseated, even though it isn't as hot as yesterday. -- L.C.
ANSWER: Heatstroke and heat exhaustion have similar names but are different conditions. People who exercise in conditions of high heat and humidity are at risk for heat exhaustion. ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have always been a proponent of the attitude that "no matter how much you make yourself look younger on the outside, you are still aging on the inside." I read a recent article on the benefits of the supplement NAD+, which describes the inside anti-aging benefits. It appears that there are quite a few. I am very interested in ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My question concerns the benefits and risks of taking oral estrogen following removal of ovaries and uterus due to my concerns about ovarian cancer. I have recovered well from having this laparoscopic-robotic surgery. I am a healthy 69-year-old with a family history of ovarian cancer (mother) and breast cancer (mother and sister)...Read more