DEAR DR. ROACH: When my mother discovered she has a factor V mutation, everyone in the family decided to be tested as a precaution. This is a hereditary item, which I am sure you know. It was determined that I carry the gene. I am 65. I have had no issues, and it probably never would have been discovered if we did not go looking for it. This was...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Is it possible for a person to reach the age of 70 and just now be diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Are there degrees of impairment, like with autism -- some worse than others? -- C.S.
ANSWER: The hallmark of bipolar disease is mania. "Mania" has a specific meaning in psychiatry: It's a very elevated mood, associated with high ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My daughter is a registered nurse, and tells me that when getting blood tests, it is not necessary to fast eight to 12 hours even though my doctor says to do so. Four hours is enough, she claims. Is this true, or is my daughter trying to be a doctor, if you know what I mean? -- L.C.
ANSWER: I probably agree with your daughter ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 74 years old and have been a brittle Type 1 diabetic for 50 years. I have no history of heart disease. My doctor of 40 years recently retired and had me control my hemoglobin A1C to a range of 5.9-6.2. My new doctor, who is in her mid-30s, wants me to elevate my hemoglobin A1C to 8.0. Is this the new way of controlling blood...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I just read another sad story about a woman who had breast cancer, fought it and seemed to win, but after five years, it came back and took her life. The same sequence of events happened to my wife two years ago. She fought the second round of cancer for a year and a half, but it was just about everywhere. What is this connection...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My neighbor is battling cancer for the third time. The medical personnel she sees when she goes for her chemotherapy treatments are urging her to get rid of her two cats. They claim the cats are a danger to her health. Wearing gloves and a mask while cleaning litter boxes will not help. Why? What do the cats have that can hurt ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 35-year-old white male who was a drug addict from the age of 14 until 32. You name it, I took it. About three years ago, I quit drugs and have lived a healthy lifestyle since. I do not drink alcohol, and I smoke one or two cigarettes a day. Three years ago, I was tested for hepatitis and was told the results were negative....Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I had an abdominal X-ray to check on my gallstones, and was surprised to find an enlarged spleen. I was told it might be leukemia or lymphoma! I was sent to an oncologist, who reassured me that I did not have cancer and recommended I get checked again in six months. My doctor checked it after three, and my spleen had gone back ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: How much mercury is safe? -- A.C.
ANSWER: The chemical element mercury exists in three forms: elemental mercury, which is the kind in thermometers; inorganic mercury, especially mercuric chloride; and organic mercury, including methyl and ethyl mercury. All of these have toxicities, but the types of toxicities are different for ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Apparently, it is common for older people to have balance issues. Do these balance problems usually stem more from muscular issues or inner ear issues? -- E.M.
ANSWER: It is often a combination of issues that lead to balance problems in older adults. Inner ear problems, where the organs of balance are located, are a major cause....Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have been following with great interest the recent measles outbreak. Back when I was a child, if little Johnny got the measles I remember every mom in the neighborhood would take their child to little Johnny's house so their kids could contract the measles. This was the case for every childhood disease. The only thing I can ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: This past weekend, during my son's wedding festivities, I experienced a sigmoid volvulus. Doctors recommended surgery, but I opted for a colonoscopy, which was performed successfully. Thank goodness. I was immediately a new woman, and no one would have dreamed I went through this emergency. The surgeons recommended I have my ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I was recently worked up for an autoimmune disease that now seems to be osteoarthritis. I was placed on 10 mg of prednisone for 14 days with amazing relief from my painful shoulder and arms. I am severely allergic to aspirin and do not want to take opioids. The physician has ordered prednisone 2.5-5 mg daily to control symptoms. ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently read that a large percentage of orthopedic injury to the elderly is directly related to their falling while walking large animals, specifically dogs over 20 pounds. Can you shed light on this please? -- M.F.
ANSWER: A March 2019 study in JAMA Surgery did identify dog walking as an increasing cause of fracture. Over 4...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: A friend was given a test to see how long food stayed in her stomach after eating. She was told that it stayed only a short time before continuing its journey, a much shorter time than the average person. This was given as a reason for her obesity, that she experienced hunger sooner than most people.
Does this really happen, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 65-year-old woman who was recently diagnosed with iron deficiency and sent to a hematologist for two sessions of iron infusion. After completing this procedure, I found out from a home genetics testing company that I have two of the genes for hemochromatosis. My doctor ordered a clinical genetics test to make sure, and ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 82-year-old woman in good health. I recently had labwork that showed my TSH level is 6.14. I was told that I would need thyroid medicine because eventually I would feel tired and cold all the time. I do not have either of these symptoms. I'm usually warm when others say they are cold. I wake up at 6:30 and am ready for ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My wife has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Doctors tried an electrical cardioversion, but it came back after a few days. She is taking metoprolol and Eliquis. We have read about the supplements red clover, turmeric, omega-3 and hawthorn. Should she discontinue the pharmaceuticals and take supplements instead? -- J.C.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Short of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, why hasn't the Food and Drug Administration approved sildenafil in a set dosage for blood pressure medication? I saw a decrease from 150/90 to 115/70 in a reading about an hour after taking a 20-mg tablet. That's a far superior result compared with the medications I am on. -- J.I.C.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My nephew has foot odor. Even after showering, his feet have a bad odor. His shoes smell bad and have to be replaced often. What is the remedy for this problem? -- B.C.
ANSWER: Foot odor is caused mostly by bacteria living on your feet. Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments, so people who sweat a lot from their feet are...Read more