DEAR DR. ROACH: I was diagnosed with high LDL cholesterol 20 years ago. I have been taking higher statin doses and now take Crestor 20 mg. Due to muscle pain, my cardiologist prescribed Praluent injections of 75 mg every two weeks to lower my LDL to below 77. I am 74 and have two heart stents in my right coronary artery, but have never had a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: For 58 years, I've been walking around with a visible tracheostomy scar on my throat, leading the curious to ask: "Yuck. What happened there?" My answers have changed over the years, but were usually something like: "I was 4. A doctor had to cut my throat open so I could breathe." But now, I don't wait for the question. Lately, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a paraplegic due to a spinal cord injury back in 1979. I battle one UTI after another, and I am becoming immune to most antibiotics. Why the constant infections? My urologist just ordered a CT scan but seems uninterested in me as a patient. I am sick of being sick. I straight catheterize four times a day usually. It's ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently read in a magazine that it would be better to contact a registered nurse over a physician assistant for medical questions. I was surprised. Just what is the hierarchy below a doctor? How about a nurse practitioner? -- P.H.
ANSWER: I don't look at doctors, nurses and physician assistants as being in a strict hierarchy,...Read more
DEAR DR ROACH: I am a 79-year-old male who has been on tamsulosin for years, but it is not helping much. A recent CT scan showed my prostate at 6.2 cm transverse measurement. My urologist suggests taking Avodart to shrink it. However, I have read that this drug, along with other similar drugs, can cause an aggressive type of prostate cancer and ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 77-year-old woman. I am 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weigh 107 pounds. I take no medication. When I went to the doctor last week, he found that my alkaline phosphatase was 176, my ALT 10, and my AST 11. He told me I had fatty liver and to get a scan, but I had no way to get to the place to have it done. He did not say ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: What is the difference between chronic pain and acute pain? How can I best describe my chronic pain when it is variable in intensity but negatively impacts so much of my life and my activities? Are there things my doctor should consider or suggest in my treatment or in communicating with me? -- P.P.C.
ANSWER: Acute pain is ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a daughter (almost 31 years) who is concerned about Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome. Her maternal grandmother has been diagnosed with that condition. She is interested in seeking out a genetic test for the condition to learn if she is susceptible. She was referred to a commercial, direct-to-consumer laboratory for the test.
DEAR DR. ROACH: In December, I developed an abscess in my jaw from food getting caught in my tooth. I went to see a local dentist who prescribed clindamycin and metronidazole. I came down with a case of C. difficile. I have since found evidence that multiple antibiotics and clindamycin are causes of C. diff.
I am getting mixed messages about my...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: For months, I have had a persistent cough that I have been unable to get help with. I saw an allergist about three years ago and was told I am allergic to dust mites (I understand a large number of people fit into this category). I was first referred to a lung doctor where X-rays showed that my cheek sinus drains were completely ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 77 years old. When I go to a new doctor, there is always that past history form to fill out. I know to include current medications, including OTC and allergies, but how far back should I go?
Should I include the tonsillectomy when I was in grade school (I don't recall how old I was)? Or the surgery to remove a benign tumor ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: While chasing my cat, I dove to the ground and both my knees took a beating. They were bruised but felt fine. A few days after this, my left knee started to bother me. I put on a brace to see if that would help (as it usually does), but it didn't. I went to my chiropractor a few days later and had an adjustment and deep tissue ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a healthy male, age 66, nonsmoker, not overweight, who takes no medications. At my most recent annual physical, I mentioned to my physician that I was having symptoms of erectile dysfunction and wondered if that was typical for a man my age or if it could be due to low testosterone. He ordered normal blood tests as well as a...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Have any studies been done on Demerol to check its effect on older people? I know of four people who were out of their minds with hallucinations for three or four days after being given Demerol. -- B.L.
ANSWER: Meperidine (Demerol) is no longer commonly used, for several reasons. One is the side effect you note: Hallucinations ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 52-year-old woman coming out the other side of menopause. I've had a smooth ride through it, with the exception of occasional mood swings. I've been taking SAM-e since I found out about it on the internet. I did not want to take a prescription medicine, nor did I feel my mood swings were strong enough to warrant doing so. ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am on blood thinners, so I am unable to take ibuprofen or naproxen for pain. Do you know of anything I can take to help with pain? -- K.B.
ANSWER: The body has two ways of clotting blood: the blood clotting factors and platelets, which are special blood clotting cells.
Warfarin (Coumadin), like newer agents such as ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My wife has had dementia for over two years. There is an ad in our local paper for an Alzheimer's disease study. It says, "This study will assess how safe and effective an investigational drug is at slowing the progression of early (prodromal) or mild Alzheimer's disease." Is this protocol legit? I don't trust this type of ad not...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 72-year-old woman in fair health. I had strong bones until I had gastric bypass surgery. Within two years, I developed osteoporosis. In 2016 my parathyroid hormone level was found to be elevated. However, it has come down over the past year or two from 97.76 to 68.95 pg/mL. The endocrinologist now has me on 8,000 IU of ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My 7-year-old grandson has a question: "How can I be a science doctor like you? Thank you, Colton Fancher from Florida" -- C.F.
DEAR COLTON: Being a doctor is great -- I wouldn't change it for any other job -- but it isn't right for everyone. It's also a hard road that takes years of dedication.
The first part is the desire, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband, 79 years old, is getting up five or six times at night to urinate. The urgent care doctor said he doesn't have an infection but doesn't know what's going on. He is taking Flomax, but that doesn't seem to be helping. Who should he see? -- E.L.O.
ANSWER: Urinating at nighttime ("nocturia") is a common problem for men, ...Read more