DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm an 84-year-old male who has recently found relief from lifelong strain in bowel movements by using stool softeners. I would like to know if they're habit-forming if taken once a day. I've tried Metamucil without as good of results. Please comment on both. Thank you. -- B.C.
ANSWER: Straining for a bowel movement is unhealthy...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: If a patient has been fully vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines within the past three months and subsequently develops symptoms of COVID-19 and tests positive, does this patient need to quarantine/
isolate? Why or why not? -- C.K.
ANSWER: If a person has COVID-19, they need to be isolated for 10 days after the onset of...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a colonoscopy scheduled for mid-May. I spoke with the physician assistant, and she read me the warnings about possible punctures and possible bleeding afterward. With a puncture, she said a colostomy bag is required for three to four months. If there's bleeding afterward, they must go back into the colon to stop it.
She ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My father was diagnosed with protein S deficiency, but there isn't much information on it. I'm unable to find a doctor who specializes in it or even knows about it. His health is declining fast, and we are thinking it might be linked to this. The amount of Lovenox he has to inject daily is equivalent to an ICU patient needing ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a very active 66-year-old male who had three stents put into my right coronary artery about 10 years ago after I had two heart attacks. I have not had any problems since then. I am restoring a 1966 GTO convertible, which includes many days of heavy work and have had no chest pains, shortness of breath or any problems.
I ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: After my doctor moved, my new doctor would not order me a colonoscopy because I had turned 90. Are all doctors like that? My family is loaded with cancer. My mom had two colon cancer surgeries and died at age 99. Why can't I make my own decision about it? I would rather not wake up from a test than to have cancer. I lost my ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a question about omega-3 fatty acid intake, either through fish consumption or by dietary supplements like fish oil. Apparently, many American diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. One possible reason is that most American beef cattle are fed primarily on corn rather than their natural diet of grass, leading to meat ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My 76-year-old husband has severe muscle cramps. Originally it occurred in his legs, but now it also affects his hands and feet. He screams in pain. Recently he had an attack and asked me to get him some bananas. I did, and the cramping stopped minutes after eating one. A friend of ours used to bring us bananas, and I believe my ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have had plantar warts on both feet for decades. Unfortunately, they are on the pressure points of my feet (balls and heels). Nothing seems to eradicate the virus. I have tried bleomycin shots, Cantharidin, Candida antigen shots, liquid nitrogen, surgery, pulsed dye laser treatments, electrolysis, radiation (it did work for a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 79 years old, at a healthy weight, and I exercise often. Recently I had a blood test that showed several markers for lupus. The doctor wants to put me on hydroxychloroquine. But first I had to have my eyes checked because the drug seems to have an effect on your vision. My ophthalmologist checked my eyes and said it would be...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Could you say something about depression? What can it do to you in the long run if it isn't treated? -- Anon.
ANSWER: Depression is a huge topic. There are many types of depression, and the effects of depression on a person depend in large part on age, sex, pregnancy status and many other unique characteristics of a person.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 79 years old. I have lupus, and currently my main focus is the lungs (COPD, asthma), which is under control. However, no one seems to be able to tell me what to do to prevent my toes from feeling like they have been soaking in ice. Even when I'm sleeping, they are so painful. I wear warm socks day and night. I have asked the...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: How effective are COVID vaccines for people taking immunosuppressive prescriptions? Will we be tested for a desired level of antibodies and maybe get a booster sooner than other people? -- C.J.
ANSWER: The degree of benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine in people with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication is likely to ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: In October 2018 I was treated for syphilis, and had a VDRL titer of 1:128. A few months later, the titer was 1:8, but has stayed at 1:8 since then. Why hasn't it gone down? -- Y.Y.
ANSWER: VDRL and RPR are antibody tests for syphilis. They are nonspecific and can have false positive results, meaning a person can have a positive ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: When I was growing up, people would discuss their ulcers and complain of pain related to an ulcer. You never hear that word anymore. Why is that? -- Anon.
ANSWER: Ulcers indeed have become less prevalent in the U.S. and Canada over the past few decades. But I think much of the reason people don't talk about ulcers is that most ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My son has been experiencing what he thinks is neuropathy in his arms and fingers. He currently feels sharp pain in his fingers. He has a tingling feeling as well. The orthopedic surgeon's office put him on meloxicam, and he wears an arm brace as well as a computer brace. Is meloxicam used for these problems? Or is there another ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: As I watch TV, I see a lot of drug advertisements. Why would the drug companies advertise to the general public when doctors are the people prescribing the new drugs? Or are they advertising to doctors through TV and the general public just sees the advertisement? -- C.S.
ANSWER: I do not agree with prescription drugs being ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My doctor prescribed a statin for me to reduce my LDL cholesterol, which was at 131. My HDL was 70. I stopped taking it after three weeks because I was experiencing pulled muscles at the top of each hamstring. I run 20 miles a week. Thirty-five years of running and this had never happened. Now, two years later, I read an article ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I was very reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to its rushed status and unknown long-term side effects. Finally I gave in and got my first shot a week ago, because I determined the benefits outweigh the risks. I haven't had any problems yet, but am now contemplating NOT getting the second shot due to my autoimmune disease, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 92-year-old woman in reasonably good health. I weigh about 145 pounds and have shrunk down to 5 feet, 5 inches tall. I attend a 45-minute exercise class at a wellness center three times a week. I am diabetic and have glaucoma. I take Januvia, simvastatin and losartan, and use Lumigan eyedrops at night.
I go about all my ...Read more