DEAR DR. ROACH: In a recent column, you wrote: "The acid reflux you have been treating might be something more concerning." What else could it be? -- C.P.
ANSWER: The symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease vary widely. Some people have heartburn and an acid taste in their mouth after eating a provocative meal, such as one that's large or ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am approaching 70 years old and am in good health. I exercise by swimming and walking every day. I have decided to go to Egypt, as I have always wanted to see the amazing pyramids.
I contracted hepatitis C through a transfusion many years ago. While I was being treated, my doctor advised me not to receive either hep A or hep B...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: What tests check for emphysema? Are they the same tests for COPD? My age is 80. -- P.T.
ANSWER: There are two main forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main risk factor is cigarette smoking, but there are other risk factors, including a genetic condition, alpha-1-antitrypsin ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I keep hearing that amlodipine, my blood pressure medicine, has a cancer-causing agent in it. I had ovarian cancer surgery in 2010. So far, my doctors say I am doing well. I am very concerned the amlodipine might be to blame. -- M.H.
ANSWER: I do not find any literature showing a significant association of amlodipine (Norvasc ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband and I are very fortunate to have had a happy relationship for many years. Our lovemaking has always been a pleasure for both of us. Now, we have to add Viagra to the mix. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't, which is a disappointment to both of us. Is there anything we can do to enhance its effectiveness? Or is ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 67-year-old woman who works with young children. I get a physical each year for my job, and until this year it was acceptable to say that because I was born before 1957, I was presumed to have immunity to measles, mumps and rubella. This year I was required to get an immunization titer, and it came back that I do not have...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My son is 62 years old and has cirrhosis of the liver. He does not drink. Years ago, he had a blood transfusion that turned out to have hepatitis C. He cannot get a liver transplant. He has ascites, which needs to get drained once a week. It is very painful.
I heard that someone compatible could donate part of his or her ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My 78-year-old father is experiencing the early signs of dementia. It has been suggested that he try a $500 device that would aim a low-intensity red LED light into his nose to stimulate his brain and stabilize or perhaps even reverse the symptoms of dementia. On the surface, it seems like a modern version of snake oil designed ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Three weeks ago, I had to have removal of fluid that had collected around my testicles. Nearly half a liter was removed. Five days later, fluid started to build up again, and now it has filled back up. I have been checked for cancer and infection, and have neither. What is happening? What can be done now? -- R.H.
ANSWER: It ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: When I went to my new doctor, whom I like very much, I found that they do a lot of things in their office for which I would normally be sent elsewhere. The nurse drew four vials of blood and gave me an EKG.
The EKG showed I had a heart attack sometime in the past. After thinking about it, I decided it was in 2010. My friend and ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I was considering LASIK surgery for my eyes, but I recently saw some concerning information on the news that makes me doubt the safety of the procedure. Is it safe? -- L.B.
ANSWER: With 20 million or so procedures done in the U.S., LASIK is a commonly performed surgery. It corrects refractive error so that a person can see ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a normal-weight female, age 71, who is very active. I take no medications and have never had an alcoholic drink in my life. My liver tests were abnormal (AST 58, ALT 71), and my doctor found moderate strands of fat in my liver, but no fibrosis on a FibroScan.
What is the difference between high liver enzymes and fatty liver...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband is on oxygen, and he won't take the mobile tank while he is outside. Will being on oxygen give him longer life? -- M.K.
ANSWER: Many causes of chronic lung disease lead to low oxygen levels. If the resting oxygen level is low (less than 89% oxygen saturation), then oxygen is usually prescribed. Oxygen may also be ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have heard that fish oil can clog the arteries and cause problems, but I've also heard it's good to take. I don't know if it is good or bad! Can you help me out with this? -- G.G.
ANSWER: There remains controversy about fish oil, but recent studies prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to recommend ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 73-year-old active lady. I recently noticed a wrinkle in my palm near my ring finger. I had a consultation with a nearby doctor, and he diagnosed Dupuytren's contracture. He said I should come back when the finger is curved down. I was surprised! Wouldn't it be better to have it taken care of before it gets to be a serious...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: When I was quite young, my doctor told me to never get a flu shot because it could kill me. I do not remember the reason behind this statement. I'm in my 70s now and am very concerned about not getting the shot. I had yellow jaundice as a child and don't know if this had anything to do with the doctor's statement. Could you ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My dentist saw a large mass on my jaw and sent me to an oral surgeon, who said the mass was too large. He sent me to a maxillo-facial surgeon, who did a scan and biopsy. I was diagnosed with Paget's disease but the surgeon had never seen a case before and sent me to a rheumatologist. That doctor sent me for a blood test and a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband had a kidney stone, and the doctor used shock waves to clear it up. Now the doctor says he needs to take fresh lemon juice twice a day, all his life. None of the other men in the community center with stones have been recommended lemon juice. We would like your opinion. -- M.C.
ANSWER: Lemon juice is tart because of ...Read more
DEAR DR ROACH: Many years ago, while I was battling breast cancer, a scan showed spots of concern in my midthoracic area. Upon further testing, it was determined that I have sarcoidosis. My pulmonologist warned me to stop all calcium and vitamin D supplements. Now, after 15 years, my primary care doctor wants me to begin taking a multivitamin. I...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: We watch a murder mystery show on TV. The detective finds any number of dead people who have been poisoned by almond and cherry pits. I drink almond milk several times a day. Am I in any danger? -- L.J.
ANSWER: Stone fruit pits (the kernels inside the stone) contain the substance amygdalin, which the body converts after ...Read more