Health & Spirit

International travelers still must be aware of the Zika virus

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Shingles vaccine protocol while taking an antiviral suppressant

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare cancer of the bile ducts

Health / Keith Roach /

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

The risks and myths of marijuana use

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Twist in colon is a surgical emergency

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Alcohol use not the only, or even most likely, cause of cirrhosis

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Inflammation of stomach structure gives reader a bellyache

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Yes, hot flashes can last 15 years

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Decoding the importance of systolic and diastolic BP numbers

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Overexercise may be the source of knots in the back

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Could keto diet have contributed to man's atrial fibrillation?

Health / Keith Roach /

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

New doctor, new blood pressure target, but who's right?

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Turmeric known to be helpful in managing arthritis pain

Health / Keith Roach /

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

DMSO: Risk versus benefit

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Bone marrow produces the many kinds of blood cells

Health / Keith Roach /

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

The art of Viagra timing

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Don't skip the specialist

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Reader fears total knee replacement plan may be mistake

Health / Keith Roach /

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

Mastectomy and scoliosis not likely related

Health / Keith Roach /

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


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