First of two parts
Q. Is there a magic bullet for back pain? I could use one.
There is no magic bullet for everyone. However, like millions of people who suffer back pain, I rely on the methods developed by Robin McKenzie, a physiotherapist in New Zealand.
When I was 30-years-old, I strained my lower back carrying bundles of newspapers. With a week of bed rest, I got better. A few years later, I reached for a backhand on the tennis court and ended up in bed again.
Q. Does getting older your mouth dry?
Most dry mouth is related to the medications taken by older adults rather than to the effects of aging. More than 400 medicines can affect the salivary glands. These include drugs for urinary incontinence, allergies, high blood pressure, depression, diarrhea and Parkinson’s disease. Also, some over-the-counter medications often cause dry mouth.
Q. I have a nasty-looking scar that shows only when I wear a bathing suit. I’d like to get rid of it, if possible. What’s available?
There is no procedure yet that will make a scar disappear completely. However, there are treatments to make a scar less noticeable. These include:
Surgical Scar Revision
Q. My grandmother told me she has BPPV and that it makes her head spin. What exactly is this BPPV?
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) usually strikes when you change the position of your head.
Vertigo is the feeling that either you or your surroundings are spinning. It is more than being just lightheaded or dizzy, because you are subjected to the illusion of movement. If you feel your body is moving, you have subjective vertigo. When you sense that your surroundings are moving, you have objective vertigo.
Q. I have a friend who is undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. I was wondering how this works. Doesn’t the radiation burn everything it touches?
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their genetic material. This process prevents the cells from growing. Radiation attacks all cells in a targeted area, but most healthy cells recover when treatment ends.
Q. Are there different kinds of angina?
Yes. There is stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina.
Angina, or angina pectoris, is the medical term for chest pain or discomfort usually caused by coronary artery disease.
Angina (pronounced an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) hits when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. This usually happens when there is a narrowing or blockage in one or more of the vessels that supply blood to the heart.
Angina can come from exertion. It may make you sweat or lose your breath. The pain can strike your arm or neck, too.
Q. I am petrified of spiders. Is my fear justified? Are they dangerous or just creepy?
Spiders are not aggressive. They bite you only in self-defense. Most bites by spiders are harmless. However, there are dangerous spiders. Spider bites are responsible for fewer than three deaths a year in the United States.
Spider bites have caused people to have limbs amputated. These victims refused to get medical remedies early and suffered from large wounds that became infected.
Q. I was racing down the cellar stairs a few days ago when I slipped and fell on my tailbone. I’ve had pain ever since. What should I do about it?
The coccyx (tailbone) is made up of three to five vertebrae at the lower end of the spine. Most people have a coccyx of four of these spinal bones. The coccyx functions as an attachment site for muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Coccyx comes from the Greek word for cuckoo. The coccyx’s shape is like the beak of a cuckoo. The human coccyx is considered a vestige of what was once a tail.
Q. What are the options for treating prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men in the United States.
Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.
There are many options for treating prostate cancer:
Observation. If the cancer is growing slowly, you may decide to wait and watch.
Hormone therapy. This stops cancer cells from growing.
Q. A friend of mine has Meniere’s disease. What is it exactly?
Meniere’s disease is an inner-ear disorder that produces a group of symptoms including vertigo, a spinning sensation that can lead to nausea and vomiting. Meniere’s usually occurs in only one ear.
The disease was named after French physician Prosper Ménière, who first described it in 1861. Meniere’s main symptoms are:
Attacks of vertigo without warning that last 20 minutes to more than two hours.
Permanent hearing loss that is suffered by most people with Meniere’s.