DEAR DR. ROACH: My dad recently passed away as a result of cirrhosis of the liver. He also had Parkinson's disease for 10 years. Several other people we know who have Parkinson's also have cirrhosis. Is it possible that his Parkinson's medication could have caused the cirrhosis? My dad was 78. He did drink beer up until about 10 years ago, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My son and his new wife went on a dream honeymoon that has since turned into a nightmare. They went to Costa Rica and of course were bitten by mosquitoes. Upon returning home, they were told about the Zika virus. One person told them to wait six months before trying to have a baby; another source said to wait two years. They are ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 60-year-old woman who has been taking a 200-mg tablet of acyclovir (Zovirax) every day for HSV-2 suppression. I may have an outbreak every few years, and they are pretty mild. When I do have an outbreak, I increase my dosage to 1,000 mg per day. What is the procedure when I want to get the shingles vaccine (Shingrix)? ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: A family friend has just been diagnosed with bile duct cancer. She is a breast cancer survivor and is 75 years old. The tumor is said to be the size of a quarter, and it was discovered after she complained of heartburn symptoms.
Are there screening tests that could have detected the condition before the heartburn symptoms? Are ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am absolutely convinced that marijuana is a serious health hazard. As the legalization of marijuana appears to be spreading, are you aware of any authoritative medical studies confirming the health hazards of marijuana and that it is a gateway drug to more-serious drug addictions? -- A.D.
ANSWER: This is an extremely large and...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 75-year-old male with a family history of colon cancer. I have a colonoscopy every five years. The results usually show some polyps, which are removed and biopsied. After my most recent procedure, the doctor said I have a twisted, spiral intestine and that he had never encountered that before. I am taking a stool softener ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 78-year-old woman who was diagnosed just one year ago with primary biliary cirrhosis, which is an autoimmune liver disease. It was determined that it took me many years to get to this stage, but I had no symptoms other than high liver enzymes from time to time (but not always). I am currently monitored for progression and ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: After a stomach probe two years ago, I was told that I have mesenteric panniculitis. I know it's inflammation of the stomach lining and that there's no known cause of it. So, what can I do for it? Are there special foods I should eat or stay away from? I wasn't given any information about it at all!
I can't take a lot of ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I started going through natural menopause in my late 50s. I will be 65 in September. Should I still be having hot flashes? -- B.G.
ANSWER: Unfortunately, some women (perhaps 25 percent) will continue to have hot flashes 15 years out from the start of menopause. There are many treatments for hot flashes, but although estrogens ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Decades ago, I served in the Marines and was wounded in action in the Korean War. While recuperating in the naval hospital, I was told by several doctors that the more important reading of blood pressure (which they took frequently) was the bottom number. Now I am told by my doctors at the Veterans Affairs medical facility that ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My wife is 69 and in very good health, exercising at least two hours a day. She has suffered from "knots in the back" for over 10 years. It is extremely painful, often bringing her to tears. It comes on suddenly at any time of the day or night, and lasts hours, days and occasionally weeks. She has been to several physicians, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband, age 67, recently was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. He began feeling very weak, and got dizzy every time he stood. We both had started on the keto diet together about a week prior. I'm a registered nurse. After taking his blood pressure and finding it to be very low for him, I thought he was dehydrated. I fed him...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 91-year-old male. When I switched primary care physicians, my new doctor shook his head because my previous doctor had never told me about my low GFR readings and being borderline diabetic. In the past I had assumed that if the doctor didn't mention any low or high blood test results, everything must be OK. I no longer ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 88 and have had osteoarthritis in my hands and knees since I was in my 50s. I began taking Tylenol and Advil for pain. But on a recommendation from a health food store clerk, I started taking turmeric. Since that first dose, I have never had to take any pain medication again. I also have not had a knee replacement. My ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: What is your take on the benefits versus risks of DMSO? -- W.R.
ANSWER: DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) has only one use approved by the Food and Drug Administration, in people with interstitial cystitis, where it is directly instilled into the bladder. It is also used (off-label, meaning without an official FDA indication) as a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: You have mentioned diseases of the blood marrow in the column before, but what does the bone marrow actually do? -- T.S.B.
ANSWER: The main job of the bone marrow is to produce the different blood cells: red blood cells to carry oxygen; white blood cells to fight infection and cancers; and platelets to stop bleeding. Diseases of...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: If I take Viagra on an empty stomach, eat dinner one hour later, then have sex 45 minutes after that, will Viagra work very effectively in this situation? -- Anon.
ANSWER: Although the manufacturer says you can take sildenafil (Viagra) with or without food 30 minutes to four hours before sexual activity, I went to a conference ...Read more
Correction: "I" added in graf 1; "use of" added in graf 3.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My significant other and I are debating whether I should pursue follow-up testing with a rheumatologist for the possibility of ankylosing spondylitis. I say no, and she says yes, because things could be worse down the road if I do have AS and don't deal with it starting ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am thinking of having a total knee replacement done, as recommended by my doctor. I have bone on bone in my knee. What is your opinion? I know a friend of a friend who had one done three months ago and has had nothing but trouble. He has had two manipulations because he cannot bend past 95 degrees. Even though he goes to ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: In 2000 (at age 53), I had a mastectomy with a TRAM flap reconstruction. In 2010, I began experiencing lower back pain. I did physical therapy and have continued those exercises since then, but the back pain worsened last year. I began also doing low-impact aerobics classes and water therapy. X-rays at that time showed 19 degrees...Read more