Health Advice



Don't put off potentially lifesaving colonoscopy

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am responding to a recent letter from a reader anxious about undergoing a colonoscopy. One of her concerns was a possible perforation requiring additional surgery and a temporary colostomy. You reassured her that the probability of such an occurrence was very low.

I have seen this fear often. No doubt, it comes from most ...Read more

What's the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Please explain the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? I know they are both helpful for the digestive system, but I'm not sure why. -- A.B.

ANSWER: Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients, such as fiber, that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Probiotics are the healthy organisms ...Read more

Husband's facial nerve pain comes in waves, lasts months

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband suffers from trigeminal neuralgia. This is often very painful for months at a time, then the pain will stop for a few months before it begins again. He does not want to begin taking an antiseizure medication. Are there any natural remedies? -- B.K.

ANSWER: Trigeminal neuralgia is a pain syndrome involving the ...Read more

It can be difficult to identify source of slow weight gain

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My daughter is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds. She has been slowly putting on weight over the past several years. She is disabled, but she has been watching what she eats and working with a personal trainer to build strength. She takes several medications, including Abilify and sertraline. Her doctor ...Read more

Heart murmurs, explained

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I read your recent column regarding asymptomatic atrial fibrillation. How does this differ from having a heart murmur? I have had a murmur for about 25 years, though it was not fully diagnosed until three years ago during an unrelated emergency room visit. Until recently, the murmurs were getting worse. Other than limiting my ...Read more

Does delay of second Shingrix dose warrant a third shot?

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Three years ago, I turned 60 and received my first dose of Shingrix. I had a highly unpleasant reaction, with fever and flulike symptoms. I did not return for the second dose until last week, so although I have had two doses, they are three years apart. Do I need to get another dose in a short window of my most recent vaccination...Read more

The mysterious mechanics of COPD

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have COPD, and my doctor explains that the trouble is that my lungs do not expel the full amount of the breath I take in. This prevents the full oxygen intake from my breath. My question is, Do commercial oxygen generators serve any purpose if the full amount of oxygen supplied by them cannot fully enter the lungs? -- J.H.

...Read more

Myths, misunderstandings and misleaders about COVID-19

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DR. ROACH WRITES: I have written many columns on COVID-19, which has become a major cause of death and disability in all of North America and the world. I have consistently recommended the available vaccines, and tried to identify their (modest) risks and (dramatic) effectiveness. Recently, I have received many letters so full of misinformation ...Read more

Organ donation remains a generous gift at any age

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 86-year-old woman, and my sister is 91. We are both in good health, with normal health issues for people our age. My question is that we both have contracts with crematory companies, but we also intend to be organ donors. Will they really use organs from people our age? We both have some health issues. How should we ...Read more

Anxiety about insomnia meds is keeping woman awake

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 77-year-old woman. I have had problems with insomnia for at least 50 years, but it is much worse now. Some nights I don't sleep, and some nights I get maybe three or four hours. My primary doctor will prescribe only certain meds and will not prescribe meds I took in the past, like Dalmane or others. All he will prescribe ...Read more

Intermittent fasting can be a useful weight-loss tool for some

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am interested in your perspective on intermittent fasting. I am in a walking group of seniors (all 65+ years). Six of us have been on this diet for six to eight weeks, and everyone has consistently lost a pound a week. There is a lot of debate about how it works. We are on an eight-hour eating window and 16 hours of fasting. ...Read more

No definitive link uncovered between talc and ovarian cancer

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Please help me understand the connection between the use of baby powder or talcum powder and ovarian cancer. I can't grasp how a product that is applied externally can migrate to the ovaries and cause cancer. -- K.M.

ANSWER: Talcum powder, in its raw form, contains small amounts of asbestos, which is known to cause lung cancer ...Read more

Bones sometimes show up in unlikely places

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: On Nov. 2, 2020, I had a total right hip replacement. The surgery was successful, and the incision has healed completely. X-rays on the day of the surgery are clear. However, X-rays in April this year show something the surgeon called heterotopic ossification. It feels as if there is something large growing inside my hip. How ...Read more

Consider first aid needs when planning remote travel

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: How is preventive medical care handled when an individual is traveling to a remote location? For example, I will be hiking this summer in a remote area with no medical care available (it would take three days to get to a doctor). Can a nonmedical person pick up prescription medication prior to the trip, just in case it is needed?...Read more

Risk of contracting HSV-2 can be reduced not eliminated

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a healthy man in my late 40s. I was married for 18 years to my first sexual partner. Since my divorce three years ago, I have had two additional partners. These were casual flings. I used condoms and did not catch anything. I was happy to meet a woman who stated she is not into casual sex. I see relationship potential. The ...Read more

There's no evidence that COVID vaccine affects fertility

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: A friend is not getting vaccinated for COVID-19 because she thinks the vaccines could cause permanent fertility issues. Would you please comment on this? -- M.S.

ANSWER: I can understand why a woman would be concerned about losing fertility. However, this is just not a concern that is borne out by the science. One theoretical ...Read more

The Achilles tendon at risk from increased vigorous activity

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing basketball seven years ago at the age of 49. I was able to recover and continue playing. My question has to do with others who have suffered from this: Why do so many young people appear to tear their Achilles? I can think of a handful of guys I know who have recently done this, and all of ...Read more

In the diabetic's toolbox: diet, exercise and blood sugar control

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm a recently diagnosed diabetic. Can you please give me advice on how to reverse it if possible? -- H.M.

ANSWER: I'm assuming you have been newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by resistance to insulin. Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, is an autoimmune disease caused by ...Read more

There's more than one kind of food poisoning

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Can you tell me about food poisoning? I often hear the term, but it seems to mean different things to different people. -- V.A.

ANSWER: Foodborne illnesses are indeed a very large and diverse group. Although the term may refer to toxins in food, such as poisonous mushrooms or heavy metal contamination, it most often refers to ...Read more

Reader bemoans lack of precise post-vaccine immunity testing

Health Advice / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Can you comment on the lack of a test that truly demonstrates the effective level of immunity an individual has from receiving the COVID vaccine? My wife has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine over a month ago. Now we learn that her immune system may not have created any antibodies against ...Read more



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