Health & Spirit

Results of bone density test determine follow-up testing

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 76 years old and have had a bone density test every two years for the past 12 years at the recommendation of my physician. Every test has shown bone loss in my left hip, which is the result of a childhood case of polio. My physician has also pressed me to take Fosamax, which I have strongly resisted because of the unpleasant...Read more

Vaccines and chemo can mix -- on a case by case basis

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My sister is getting chemo for breast cancer, and her 4-year-old is due for his shots. She's worried that he won't be able to get them all because of her treatment. Our parents are unsure if they should go ahead and get the shingles vaccine since they are around her often. What are the guidelines on shots for close contacts of ...Read more

Cognitive impairment after surgery is not uncommon in seniors

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 67-year-old estate planning attorney. Last year I had back surgery and experienced substantial cognitive impairment immediately after. It has been over a year, and I have recovered perhaps 80% of my prior mental function. I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue, as many of my elderly clients have also experienced ...Read more

Very high calcium score could be a false positive

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 80-year-old male who's very physically active. Six years ago, I had a coronary calcium scan resulting in a score of 3,708 with no symptoms. A few days later, a thallium treadmill stress test showed no problems.

I have aortic stenosis that recently reached the borderline-severe stage and is being dealt with by my doctor. ...Read more

What's the reason for the flu season?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Why is there a flu season instead of it being a year-round health challenge? And why do flu strains originate in Southeast Asia instead of, say, Poughkeepsie, New York? -- M.S.

ANSWER: Why there is a flu season is a bit of a mystery. Scientists used to think it was due to people staying indoors more during cold weather or ...Read more

The prognosis on extra heartbeat is usually normal

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm an 83-year-old woman in very good health who takes no medications. My doctor informed me that I have an "extra" heartbeat, but I have no noticeable symptoms. What is my prognosis? Will my heart wear out sooner? -- R.P.

ANSWER: Based on what you've told me, I'm going to guess that you have an irregular heart rate due to some ...Read more

Must a person stay put to have a movement?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am in my early 90s and have read your column and those before yours, and have not seen this topic covered.

Long ago, my primary doctor told me that many people suffering from constipation are not aware that they are ignoring the natural urge for a bowel movement that comes within 15 to 30 minutes after every meal, often ...Read more

What's the real story on medical negligence?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: A 2016 Hopkins study reported that medical negligence accounts for 250,000 deaths per year. And that's just mortality; it does not include any contributions to living with disease. My own view is to attribute nearly all of this to the fact that physicians are severely overworked. What do you think about all of this? -- R.A.

...Read more

Water restriction is the key to treating too-low salt levels

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: A few years ago, while skiing in Utah, I became violently ill and could barely walk. I called 9-1-1 and was taken to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with hyponatremia. It took a week in the hospital to recover. My internist eventually prescribed 1 gram of salt/sodium a day and to not drink too much water.

Even though I take ...Read more

A flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I've caught a flu. That's despite taking vitamin C, garlic and oil of oregano. I gave up on echinacea a long time ago. I try to get enough rest and live a relatively healthy life. I take no prescription drugs, and you'd think at age 59 I'd have built immunity to the latest bug.

If there's a cold or flu circulating, I always get ...Read more

Goal-setting for diabetics: What is a 'normal' glucose level?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: All my friends who are hypertensive have been able to bring their blood pressure to 120/80 or less. However, I have diabetic friends who are taking several diabetic drugs but none has been able to bring the fasting glucose levels to the ideal amount, around 85. As a matter of fact, none is even near 100. Is this situation common?...Read more

Excess production of stomach acid misdiagnosed as IBS

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: For more than three years, I lived with never-ending diarrhea. My doctor diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome. Once, I got very dehydrated and passed out after taking a shower. I was admitted to the hospital. An evaluation at that time, including a nuclear test, showed a tumor on my pancreas and another on my duodenum. My ...Read more

Salt substitute is a tricky replacement for potassium pills

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 91-year-old man with swollen legs. I take 20 mg of furosemide and 20 mEq of Klor-Con daily. I understand that the Klor-Con is to replace the potassium loss caused by the former. I also understand that I should reduce my salt intake to the lowest amount possible. Because of my age and the poor condition of my taste buds, ...Read more

Cheek chewer reaches out for help preserving teeth

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: No one seems to understand a bad habit of mine, especially dentists! I bite off the loose skin on the inside of my cheeks. I remove little bits of cheek matter that is loose and sort of just hangs and is rough. It's sort of like picking at a scab or a hang nail. Once I start, I can't stop until it's removed. Usually I end up just...Read more

Practical tips for avoiding a deep vein thrombosis

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My brother-in-law has had blood clots in his legs twice before. Now he has another one in his calf, and tests showed several in his lungs! What causes blood clots, and how can you prevent them? -- M.K.E.

ANSWER: The body must have a robust ability to stop bleeding, which needs to be ready at any time. That ability has a cost: ...Read more

Caution essential when emphysema meets beta blocker

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have emphysema. I was prescribed metoprolol, but a book I have on prescription medication said never to take this medicine if you have emphysema. It also said not to stop taking it suddenly. What's your comment? -- J.F.

ANSWER: Metoprolol is a beta blocker that's used most often for its effects on the heart. Epinephrine, ...Read more

Long-term hiccups have been a plague since youth

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My friend has been struggling with almost never-ending hiccups since she was young. There seems to be no apparent trigger for them. They happen all hours of the day and even wake her up in the middle of the night. She will hiccup until it starts to become very painful for her, and she cannot make them stop. She's tried every ...Read more

Aortic abnormality may have been cause of lifelong chest pains

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Our mother passed away at 91, after decades of medical problems. She had complained over the years to many doctors of chest pains, difficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing. After she passed, we saw in her medical records the diagnoses of "Kommerell diverticulum" and "excavatum deformity." Can you explain these? Are these ...Read more

Is it the alcohol or grapes that give wine a good-for-you rep?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Alcoholism runs in my family. I do not drink. For years I've read studies showing how good a glass of red wine is for you. Just recently something came out on the local news that "wine is good for your gut."

On a far less frequent basis, news appears that grape juice is also good for you. Is it the alcohol that makes wine good ...Read more

The best imaging test depends on what you're looking for

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Could you please explain in layman terms the difference between an X-ray, CT scan, MRI and PET scan? -- C.D.B.

ANSWER: All four of these tests provide images of the body, which your doctor can use to evaluate symptoms or search for a specific anatomical condition. Some conditions, such as depression, have no visible changes on ...Read more


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