Health & Spirit

Are prunes better than OTC remedies for constipation?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Several months ago, you had an article in the paper about an 82-year-old man who had a constipation problem. You mentioned a couple of medications to take. I am an 82-year-old man, and just shortly after that article I became constipated for a couple of days. My wife told me to take ex-lax; I took it for two or three days, and it...Read more

Chiari malformations are congenital brain-base abnormalities

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My older daughter has had headaches most of her life. When she was young, she thought it was normal.

Severe migraines started around 1995. Many doctors later, they came up with diagnosis of a Chiari malformation. She was on oxycodone, but now she is off addictive painkillers. She suffers for several days when there is a change ...Read more

Tapering off tramadol

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm 78 and a male. I had a total hip replacement on the right side 28 days ago. After the surgery, I was hospitalized two nights with physical therapy, then went home with six supervised therapy sessions. I walk with a slight limp that I am working on. Everything was a breeze until I stopped the tramadol I was given for pain (100...Read more

Are there MRI alternatives for those with metal implants?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: A few years ago, my father had two spinal cord stimulators implanted in his back to help with his lower back pain. He recently had a stroke, and after a CAT scan, was scheduled for an MRI. The MRI was canceled as soon as the technician became aware of his implants. Are there any alternatives for patients with these implants who ...Read more

Endocrinologist must handle pre-PET insulin pump instruction

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My wife is a Type 1 diabetic. She uses an insulin pump to control her sugar. She needs to have a PET scan. The prep for this test is fasting for six hours prior, along with no insulin for six hours. She was told to turn off her pump. Her blood glucose must be 150 or lower for the test. Even when she has fasted for 12 hours and ...Read more

Adult whooping cough can drag on and on

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Thirty years ago, when I was in my 40s, I was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, which was considered a disease of young children. When lying down in bed at night, I coughed to clear my rattly chest and suddenly could not breathe at all. It was terrifying, and just before passing out, my breath returned with the bray of a donkey. This...Read more

A look at several markers can give insight into 'uncertain significance' of MGUS

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: In September 2016, I was diagnosed with IgM MGUS. Repeat bloodwork in November 2017 revealed both IgA and IgM MGUS. I have no measurable M protein. I have had no fatigue, bone pain or other symptoms. I am a 65-year-old female in good health; I eat carefully, do not drink or smoke and exercise almost every day. Can you comment on ...Read more

Sudden total deafness in one ear has no identifiable cause

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I hope you can advise me on a current hearing issue. I'm a 63-year-old man, and I woke up one morning to total deafness in my left ear (my right ear was OK). I got in to see an ENT doctor immediately. He ran a hearing test, which verified my deafness, and started me on a regimen of steroids (prednisone). After two weeks, there ...Read more

Is permanent remission from rheumatica possible?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 69-year-old woman who has been recently diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica after three months of severe pain and no diagnosis. I am now on prednisone, with some pain relief. It is worse in the evening, and I take the prednisone before bed. There is a great deal of pain and some weakness in all my joints, but ...Read more

Meds and PT are indicated for arthritis and herniated disks

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 44 years old and female. Nine months ago, I suddenly experienced severe low backache without any associated physical activities. I was bedridden for five days, though during that time I experienced severe spasmodic lower backache just in my back. My bowel and bladder function were normal. I had pain on lifting my right leg. ...Read more

The 'perfect diet' is an elusive target

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: In a recent column, you recommended "a diet based mostly on plants and legumes, with nuts, some fruits, whole grains and almost no refined sugars and starches." By "some fruits," are you suggesting not eating certain fruits, or just a limited amount of fruit overall? I ask because my cardiologist has recommended an Atkins-type ...Read more

When is a heart valve leak not worth worrying about?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I was diagnosed with a minor to moderate tricuspid valve leak, as well as a minor to moderate aortic valve leak and a trace mitral valve leak. My doctor says that there is no need to worry; he says we will just watch it. He also says that I can live a lifetime and not have any changes. Is he right? I'm worried all the time about ...Read more

MAI is a lung infection that resembles tuberculosis

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm a 65-year-old woman in relatively good health. I've been diagnosed with a nontuberculous mycobacterial lung infection (mycobacterium avium-intracellulare, or MAI) leading to bronchiectasis. I'm taking three antibiotics (rifampin, azithromycin and ethambutol). I've been referred to specialists in both infectious diseases and ...Read more

Post-back-surgery foot drop possibly nerve-related

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband had surgery two weeks ago to fuse his three lowest vertebrae due to degenerative disc disease. He had no issues with his legs or feet prior to surgery.

Since the surgery, his back pain is gone, but his legs are extremely weak -- he can walk only with a walker, and his left foot has drop foot. My main concern for him ...Read more

Antibiotics before teeth cleaning not recommended for most

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have had two angioplasty procedures completed, one in 1999 and the second in 2014. Stents were inserted during each procedure. As a preventive measure, my dentist wants me to take four antibiotic pills (amoxicillin) before I see the hygienist. What is the reason for this? Do you feel it is necessary to take antibiotics before ...Read more

New field of pharmacogenomics shows promise in better guiding drug dosages

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: Do you have any information on cytochrome P450 testing for drug sensitivity? -- S.S.

ANSWER: Cytochrome P450 is a family of enzymes that are important for cell metabolism and critical for detoxifying many drugs. Any given person has a particular set of P450 enzymes, and understanding them sometimes can help determine the correct...Read more

Pneumonia vaccine can be administered in thigh if necessary

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a badly torn rotator cuff on my left shoulder, so that arm is basically a constant problem. In January 2017, my physician suggested that I would benefit from the pneumonia vaccine and that it would take two applications, one year apart, to complete. I agreed to have the vaccine, which was administered into my upper left ...Read more

Observant reader nails description of Cheyne-Stokes breathing

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: My wife of 52 years is 71 and has developed what I assume is a problem with her breathing when she sleeps. During some periods of sleep, she starts taking a rhythmic set of breaths. There usually are four deep breaths followed by four shallow breaths. Each set of the four breaths decreases in intensity, and the shallow breaths ...Read more

What can be done after diagnosis of chronic kidney disease?

Health / Keith Roach /

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 76-year-old woman. I read your column daily, but I do not remember reading anything about chronic kidney disease. I have just been diagnosed with CKD and have been reading as much as I can get my hands on. This is very frustrating, since much of what I find is contradictory. However, my biggest concern is that the doctor ...Read more


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