Question: Can intense itching be a side effect for someone with diabetes whose blood sugars are poorly controlled?Answer: Poorly controlled diabetes is one possible cause for unexplained itching. Exactly how diabetes causes itching isn't certain, but suggested causes include diabetic nerve root injury, metabolic abnormalities from widely fluctuating blood sugars, and dry skin. If this is the cause, it should improve with better efforts to lower the blood sugars.
Question: I got an e-mail that described using egg whites to treat a bad burn. It said the collagen protein in egg whites helped heal the burn. Is that really true?Answer: No, it's not. Placing egg whites on a second-degree burn (blistering skin) or a third-degree burn (a burn through the entire thickness of the skin) places the person at high risk of salmonella bacteria entering through a defect in the skin to cause illness. Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in raw eggs, and burned skin acts as an excellent culture medium for all sorts of bacteria.
Question: For the last few weeks, whenever I cough or sneeze, my sides hurt a little. I told my doctor and he told me that it was from a muscle strain and to take two Advil for relief. That helps, but the pain keeps coming back. Is it anything to worry about? Answer: With a limited history, it’s tough to know for sure what’s causing your pain. It certainly could be a muscle strain, and if so, it should resolve soon. I don’t think it’s a rib fracture because the pain is on both sides, there’s no complaint of pain with breathing, and your pain is described as mild at worst. Pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs, would cause a lot of pain with breathing, something you didn’t describe.
Question: With the increase in antismoking education and ad campaigns, are fewer children smoking today than in the past? Are young people today getting the message? Answer: According to the recently released 2012 report from U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, despite all the antismoking education in place, young people are smoking at rates far greater than adults. Nearly 25 percent of high school seniors are current smokers, compared with 33 percent of young adults and about 20 percent of adults. Worse yet, about 1 in 10 male high school seniors use highly addictive smokeless tobacco and about 1 in 5 smoke cigars.
Question: What’s your thought on using local honey to help with spring allergies? I’ve found that since taking a tablespoon daily, my allergies have been much better. Answer: It seems that the anecdotal evidence that consuming honey made by bees local to where one lives reduces seasonal allergies is much stronger than the sparse amount of formal research done to date. The rationale behind ingesting a tablespoon of locally produced honey daily is that it contains pollen from flowering plants endemic to your area. The bees become covered in pollen from whatever is in bloom, and this is transferred to their honey. Some believe that such exposure to the local allergens is like an oral form of allergy desensitization.
Question: My triglyceride level was 419 and my doctor recommended that I take the drug Tricor to lower it. Since I feel fine, do I need to take it? Why is an elevated triglyceride level bad? What raises the triglycerides? Answer: Triglycerides are a part of the total cholesterol in your blood. For years, we weren’t quite sure whether or not treating triglycerides made a difference in preventing heart disease. High levels over 400 usually got treated, while numbers between 200 and 400 were treated at the doctor’s discretion. It turns out that high triglycerides do need to be addressed, and they do play a role in the development of heart disease. The current cholesterol guidelines consider a level above 150 to be too high.
Question: Do puzzles and memory exercises really help to stave off getting Alzheimer’s disease? Answer: Using the brain by doing various “cognitive activities” like puzzles, reading newspapers and books, watching television or playing cards and board games does help stave off Alzheimer’s. Research does indeed show that more frequent activity to stimulate memory and learning is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to older folks who spend little time stimulating their brain.
Question: What do you think about the use of "pink slime" in ground beef? ?Answer: With a name like "pink slime," it seems like "lean finely textured beef" has a serious image problem. I've seen the video of food chef and critic Jamie Oliver where he tosses scraps of meat into a washing machine to illustrate rather poorly the meat separation process, followed by the dousing of household bleach on so-called pink slime to make a dramatic point. This is simply not accurate.
Question: I am a virile, sexually active, middle-aged male. Prior to engaging in sex, my partner and I enjoy imbibing alcoholic beverages to loosen up/set the mood. How is it that alcohol has a positive effect on achieving an erection? Would testosterone supplements help? ?Answer: Alcohol, in moderate quantities, helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and inhibition through its role as a central nervous suppressor. Psychological impotence and performance anxiety can be helped by a modest amount of alcohol before initiating sex. It can slow the heart rate and increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system - the nerves that regulate digestion, slow down the heart rate, and increase the flow of blood into the penis and clitoris. Too much alcohol will lead to reduced motor (muscle) control, reduced cognitive faculties, euphoria, sedation, and unconsciousness. That said, the experts who study alcohol and its long-term effects don't recommend alcohol use before or during sex - especially in older men. Alcohol consumed too much and too often may eventually have a negative effect on all organ systems of the body, including those that are involved with sexual function.
Question: I had a major heart attack about two years ago. My cardiologist says my heart pumps only half as well as a healthy heart. I'm on a number of heart medications, but can you tell me whether anyone is studying a way to restore a weak heart like mine to the way it was?
Question: My doctor recently had me get an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). After the technician took it, he said that I'm good for "10,000 miles" and there are no blockages. Now, my doctor is having me take the blood thinner Coumadin. I'm black and blue from it!