Q. I get the winter blues every year. I was wondering how many people suffer the way I do.
The medical term for winter depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms usually begin in late fall or early winter and go away by summer. A less common type of depression occurs in the summer. SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and a lack of sunlight in winter.
Q. My toe nails and leg hair don’t seem to be growing as fast as they used to. Is this age-related or is it something else?
It could be caused by something harmless, but it is possible that it is a little-known symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If I were you, I’d go to a doctor for a check-up.
PAD usually affects legs, but also can affect blood vessels to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. Your chances of getting PAD increase with age. About one in five over 65 has PAD.
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The shoulder is made up of three bones: the collarbone, shoulder blade and upper arm bone.
The shoulder is the body’s most movable joint. It is also unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. The unstable shoulder is held in place by soft tissue: muscles, tendons and ligaments.
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Q. You can settle a bet for me. Who gets shoulder problems more often, athletes or seniors?
Athletes such as pitchers, tennis players and swimmers are especially susceptible to shoulder problems because of their repetitive overhead motions. However, shoulder problems are most likely to victimize people older than 60. You can deduce that, as a group, old athletes are at the highest risk of shoulder injury.
Q. What percentage of older men have erectile dysfunction (ED)?
The incidence of ED increases with age. Between 15 and 25 percent of 65-year-old men experience this problem. In older men, ED usually has a physical cause, such as a drug side effect, disease or injury. Anything that damages the nerves or impairs blood flow in the penis can cause ED.
The following are some leading causes of erectile dysfunction: diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), prostate surgery, hormone imbalance, alcohol and drug abuse.
Q. My four-year-old grandson has begun to stutter. It upsets me and I don’t know how to handle it.
It should be reassuring to you to know that about five percent of children stutter for a period of about six months. Three-quarters of these children recover before they mature. About one percent of adults stutter.
Meanwhile, knowing how to talk to your grandson will help both of you.
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Most public health messages have focused on the hazards of too much sun exposure. But there is some sunny news about the sun.
Sunlight increases the body’s vitamin D supply. In seniors, vitamin D protects against osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become increasingly brittle. Vitamin D also protects against cancer, heart disease, and other maladies.
There are other benefits a daily dose of sunlight.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people when they don’t get enough sunlight.
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Q. All I ever hear about the sun is how dangerous it is. But, when I was a child, my mother used to tell me to get out in the sun and play. Did my mother give me bad advice?
Most public-health messages focus on the hazards of too much sun exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, an invisible component of sunlight, can cause skin damage, cataracts, wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.
But there is some sunny news about the sun.
Q. What is white-coat syndrome?
If you suffer from white-coat syndrome, your blood pressure jumps as soon as a doctor or nurse approaches you. If your doctor knows this, he or she may recommend a home blood-pressure monitor or ambulatory monitor that is worn around the clock and takes your pressure every 30 minutes.
Blood pressure tends to spike when you are excited by an emotion such as anger or fear. But high blood pressure, known as hypertension, is very sneaky. It’s called the silent killer because it usually has no symptoms.
Q. Can you get rid of warts with duct tape?
For starters, check with your doctor before beginning any self-treatment for warts. You might mistake another kind of skin growth for a wart and hurt yourself.
The jury is still out on duct-tape therapy for warts. A recent study showed that duct tape wiped out more warts than conventional freezing did. In this study, warts were covered with duct tape for six days. Then, the warts were soaked in warm water and rubbed with an abrasive such as pumice stone. The treatment was repeated for as long as two months.