Question: Do you think that we'll ever have a cure for the "common cold"? Answer: A month ago, I would have given you the same answer that I've given for years: The "common cold" is caused by many viruses such as rhinoviruses, enteroviruses, parainfluenza, coronaviruses, respiratory syncytial viruses and adenoviruses. The fact that they all can mutate has made it impossible to find a vaccine that'll wipe out one or more of these viruses responsible for colds.
Question: A recent British study said Monopril (fosinopril) antihypertensive medication causes cataracts. Could you comment on that? Answer: I'm not sure if I'm referring to the same study you're describing, but a recent article from the University of Sydney, Australia, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology described a link between the use of beta blockers and ACE inhibitor
Question: I never had a problem swallowing pills until I was treated with radiation for esophageal cancer. Now, any pills I take seem to get trapped in the upper part of my throat. When it happens, water hardly helps, but swallowing a piece of bread seems to dislodge the pills. Is this from a Schatzki's ring? Would stretching my esophagus help?
Question: I was disappointed in your response to a recent question pertaining to the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke from a ruptured thoracic (chest) aortic artery dissection. You failed to mention that a bicuspid aortic valve, found in 1 to 2 percent of the population, is found in 7 to 14 percent of all thoracic aortic dissections. Could you please let your readers know about the seriousness of bicuspid aortic valves?
Question: According to the patient information I received from Medco for those taking levothyroxine, they advise taking the thyroid tablet with a full glass of water because it can dissolve very quickly, swell in the throat, and cause choking. Given the small size of the tablet, I'm hard pressed to believe there is any real danger of swelling to any appreciable size to cause choking. Is there a real risk of choking?
Question: I am a 67-year-old man who was diagnosed with diabetes about eight years ago. Because I served in Vietnam, Veterans Affairs pays for all my diabetic meds because they say I might have been exposed to Agent Orange, even if I wasn't aware of it. What's the connection between Agent Orange and diabetes?
Question: I was diagnosed with esophageal achalasia a few years ago. I did not have any reflux issues - just difficulty with food entering my stomach. I've had two dilation procedures, which helped for a while. Carbonated soda with meals seems to help the food move along. I rejected Botox injections of the esophagus because the effect is temporary. I haven't had any treatments in several years and food still collects at the point of stomach entry. Is a soft diet the best cure?
Question: I am an 84-year-old widow in pretty good health. I'd like to remain in my home for the rest of my life, unlike many of my friends who have already moved into assisted-living facilities. My two children live out of state and I'm not sure what my options are for the future. How does someone my age find out about resources to help as I get older and need more aid? How do I know who is trustworthy?
Question: My orthopedist recently told me that the DePuy right hip replacement that I received a couple of years ago is being recalled because of defective components. My orthopedist had me check a blood level for cobalt, which was abnormally high at 12. Although my new hip feels fine, the doctor says it needs to come out and be replaced again.
Question: Are there any tests out there for Alzheimer's disease? Answer: As of now, the only definitive test for Alzheimer's disease is the analysis of brain tissue after death. That's why folks with a presumptive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease are described as having "senile dementia of the Alzheimer's type." However, there may soon be a new blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer's and differentiate it from other forms of dementia.
Question: I recently saw my eye doctor because I suddenly became very sensitive to light. He said that it was caused by a condition called "Adie's pupil." My right pupil is much larger than my left and it won't get smaller in bright light. Otherwise, I see fine. He gave me eye drops, but didn't really know what caused it. Is it curable?