Q. I’m concerned that I may not be seeing as well as I used to. What should I do?
There are many signs that indicate possible vision loss. Under normal circumstances, do you have trouble recognizing faces of people you know? Is it difficult for you to read, sew, match the color of your clothes? Do lights seem dimmer than they used to?
Vision changes like these could be early warning signs of eye disease. Usually, the earlier your problem is diagnosed, the better your chances are for successful treatment and maintaining your vision.
Q. I saw a woman with what looked like a small tire around her neck. Do you know what that could be?
It could be a goiter, which is a benign enlargement of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small gland made up of two halves that lie along the windpipe just below the voice box.
When the thyroid can’t produce enough hormone to meet the body’s needs, the gland compensates by enlarging. Iodine, a chemical element, is needed to produce thyroid hormone. Therefore, an iodine deficiency can lead to goiter and hypothyroidism, which is deficient activity of the thyroid.
Q. A friend of mine had polio when he was a youth and now the disease seems to be coming back in his old age. Have you heard of this?
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 440,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), a condition that strikes polio survivors decades after they’ve recovered from an attack of the poliomyelitis virus. Researchers estimate that PPS affects from 40 to 80 percent of polio survivors.
Q. I’m having some trouble sleeping and don’t want to take pills. Do you have any suggestions?
Here are some pointers to help you get better sleep:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will keep you in sync with your body’s internal rhythm, which is affected by sunlight.
Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day. Don’t nap too much.
Exercise daily, but finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.
Don’t drink beverages with caffeine late in the day.
Don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to help you sleep.
Q. My husband told me he has no energy to do chores around the house because he’s suffering from male menopause. He’s a very funny guy.
Your husband was obviously trying to yank your chain, but there’s some truth in his joking. Fatigue is a common symptom of male menopause, also known as andropause (andro means male).
Both andropause and male menopause are used to describe decreasing levels of the male hormone testosterone that come with aging. Most men see testosterone levels drop as they get older. Some have described andropause as “puberty in reverse.”
Q. A doctor told my cousin that she had arthritis in her head. I never heard of such a thing. Have you?
I’ve never heard of head arthritis, but I don’t think that’s what the doctor said to your cousin. I’m pretty sure the doctor was talking about temporal arteritis, which is also known as cranial arteritis and giant-cell arteritis.
Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. Arteritis is inflammation of an artery.
Q. They’re starting a tai chi class at our senior center. Do you think this is worth taking?
Tai chi (pronounced tie-chee) has helped many people feel better. However, you should check with your doctor first to see if this form of exercise is OK for you.
Tai chi is practiced all across China, where it was developed in the 12th century. It’s common in Chinese hospitals and clinics.
In Asia, tai chi is considered to be the most beneficial exercise for older people, because it is gentle and can be modified easily if a person has health limitations.
Q. Does massage do anything besides make you feel relaxed?
Massage therapy, or massage, was first used thousands of years ago. Ancient writings include references to massage in Greece, Japan, China, Egypt, and the Indian subcontinent.
Massage became popular in the United States during the 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century, advances in medicine overshadowed massage treatment. Then, massage started a revival in the 1970s.
Second of two parts
Statins, which are also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are drugs that lower cholesterol by blocking the liver substance responsible for making cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has accumulated on your artery walls.
Some of the best-known statins include: simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and fluvastatin (Lescol).
In addition to reducing cholesterol, there are other advantages to taking statins.
First of two parts
Q. I’ve heard statins referred to as wonder drugs that we should put in our drinking water. Do they deserve this reputation?
Statins, which are also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are drugs that reduce cholesterol by blocking the liver substance responsible for making cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in blood. You need it to produce cell membranes, protect nerves, and make hormones.