Activity by lizatorborg
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My grandson had a virus with flu symptoms. Then one of his eyes got very red, but it wasn’t itchy or mattered shut. When my daughter took him to the doctor, she was told it was the virus settling in his eye. But it wasn’t pink eye. What’s the difference between this type of eye infection and pink eye? Are the treatments different?
ANSWER: The two conditions you mention are both eye infections,
and they are actually also both forms of
pink eye. The difference is that the type of infection your grandson had is caused by a virus. The other is caused by bacteria. Viral eye infections typically do not require any treatment. Bacterial eye infections are usually treated with antibiotic eye drops.
Eye infections are common, especially in children. As in your grandson’s case, they often happen when a child has a cold. Both viral eye infections and bacterial eye infections are called conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My father, 68, has advanced emphysema. Medication for it doesn’t seem to help as much as it used to. We’ve heard that volume reduction surgery is sometimes used in cases like his. What does this surgery involve? What are the benefits? How do we find out if he’s a good candidate for it?
ANSWER: Lung volume reduction surgery can help treat some severe cases of emphysema. The procedure involves removing part of the damaged lung tissue, so the remaining healthy tissue can work better. But it is only appropriate in a small number of cases. A thorough medical evaluation would be necessary to see if your father might be a good candidate for lung volume reduction surgery.
Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, that damages the lungs’ air sacs, called alveoli. The alveoli are clustered like bunches of grapes. In emphysema, the inner walls of the air sacs weaken and eventually break down. That creates one larger air space instead of many small ones. This decreases the surface area of the lungs and lowers the amount of oxygen that reaches the bloodstream.
Emphysema cannot be cured. Medications and pulmonary rehabilitation are the main therapies for this disease. Medications including bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, oxygen and antibiotics often are used to help ease breathing problems and prevent flare-ups. [...]
ANSWER: Dementia is a broad term used to describe a group of symptoms that interferes with a person's thinking and the ability to function well in day-to-day activities. Many conditions can result in dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is, by far, the most common. Because so many factors can lead to dementia, one cannot say that dementia, the syndrome, is hereditary. Rather, subtypes of dementia (for example, Alzheimer’s disease) may have inherited components. A rare form of Alzheimer’s disease is truly inherited, but that accounts for only 1 percent of the total disease. Typical Alzheimer’s disease, however, does have a tendency to run in families, and there are genetic tendencies.
Dementia is defined by its symptoms, with memory loss being one of the most frequent. Just because a person has some memory loss, though, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has dementia. A diagnosis of dementia typically means a person is having problems with at least two brain functions. That may include, for example, memory loss as well as impaired judgment or problems with language. These may in turn lead to difficulty performing routine tasks, such as paying bills or driving to a familiar location without getting lost. [...]
ANSWER: Dry eyes happen when your eyes do not make enough tears or when those tears are poor quality. Treatment of dry eyes often includes medication, eye drops or ointment. But new treatments for a certain type of dry eyes may provide relief when standard treatments fail.
To keep your vision clear and your eyes comfortable, you need a smooth layer of tears consistently covering the surface of your eyes. The tear film has three basic components: oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these can cause dry eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes often include blurry vision, eye redness, sensitivity to light, and a burning, gritty or scratchy feeling in your eyes. Dry eyes may cause excessive tearing in some cases. They can make it difficult to wear contact lenses, too. Medications, age, eyelid problems, environmental factors (such as climate) and excessive eye strain can all result in dry eyes.
For some people with chronic dry eyes, the problem stems from glands in the eyelids, called the meibomian glands. Normally, these glands make oil that slows the evaporation of tears. If the glands become blocked, tears do not contain enough oil. Then the tears evaporate too quickly, and eyes become dry. This type of dry eye condition is known as evaporative dry eye. Inflammation of the eyelid skin — a disorder called ocular rosacea — can often result in blocked meibomian glands. [...]
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: How does paternal age affect fertility? Can the age of the father have an impact on the baby’s health?
ANSWER: Age can have an effect on a man’s fertility. But the influence of aging on fertility in men is not as significant as it is in women. Research has shown that there may be an increase in the risk for certain health problems in the children of older fathers. The risk, however, appears to be small.
After puberty, most men produce sperm throughout the rest of their lives. That means men can conceive a child well into their later years. That said, studies have shown that men who are older than 40 tend to be less fertile than younger men. But even though older age does reduce fertility, a man’s age alone does not seem to have a substantial effect on a couple’s fertility overall. For example, studies have shown that a man’s age does not decrease the success of fertility treatment in couples who seek those services.
A man’s age at the time a baby is conceived is called his paternal age. A woman’s age at conception is maternal age. A woman’s maternal age is considered to be advanced and health risks for a baby increase after age 35. There is no universally accepted definition of when paternal age is considered to be advanced. Various studies have used cutoffs of 40, 50 and even 60 years for advanced paternal age. [...]
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: During a recent MRI, my doctor detected a small, unruptured brain aneurysm. What could have caused this? How do you decide whether or not to treat an unruptured aneurysm?
ANSWER: A brain aneurysm is a bulge or balloon in a blood vessel in the brain. If it ruptures, a brain aneurysm can lead to serious health problems. But most small brain aneurysms do not rupture or require treatment. The decision to treat or not is based on a variety of considerations.
Arteries are blood vessels that bring blood from your heart to the rest of your body. They have thick walls with a smooth, thin inner lining. Over time, weak spots can develop in artery walls. When that happens, a bulge can develop. The bulge may progress to form a balloon shaped pouch on the artery, which is called an aneurysm.
A number of risk factors can affect your chances of developing a brain aneurysm. Brain aneurysms become more common with older age. High blood pressure can increase the likelihood of an aneurysm. Some brain aneurysms can be caused by blood infections or head injuries. Certain behaviors, such as smoking and using recreational drugs, also can raise the risk.
A brain aneurysm is a concern because it can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into or around the brain, a condition known as a hemorrhagic stroke. A ruptured aneurysm can quickly become life-threatening and requires prompt medical treatment.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My son, 8, has been coughing off-and-on at night for a few weeks and says his chest hurts, but he never complains about it during the day. Could he have asthma? How is it diagnosed? If it’s very mild, would he still need treatment?
ANSWER: Based on the symptoms you describe, it is possible that your son has asthma. His doctor can confirm the diagnosis using a test that measures lung function called spirometry. Even in mild cases of asthma, treatment usually is recommended to help relieve symptoms.
When someone has asthma, the small airways in the lungs narrow, swell, and produce extra mucus. This can lead to a variety of signs and symptoms. In children older than 3, wheezing is typically the most specific asthma symptom. But in some kids, a chronic cough may be the only asthma symptom that they have. A persistent cough at night, an illness that includes a cough that lasts more than three weeks, or coughing in response to cold air, exercise, or laughing may all be the result of asthma.
When asthma is suspected in a child who is 5 years or older, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program expert panel recommends lung function testing using spirometry. For this test, your son will take a deep breath and breathe out as hard as he can for several seconds into a tube that is attached to a machine called a spirometer.
ANSWER: Dizziness is a common problem with many possible causes. They can range from relatively minor issues, such as certain medications triggering dizziness, to more serious underlying medical problems. When dizziness persists, as in your case, it is a good idea to make an appointment to see your doctor and have the condition evaluated.
Although the term “dizziness” sounds quite specific, there are actually several kinds of dizziness. One involves feeling a loss of balance, as if you are unsteady on your feet or feel like you may fall. Another includes a sensation of being lightheaded or feeling faint, as if you might pass out. A third is feeling as if you are spinning or that the world is spinning around you. This type of dizziness is called vertigo.
It is helpful for you to be able to describe to your doctor exactly what you are experiencing during your episodes of dizziness. Your description can offer clues to the potential source of the problem. For example, conditions that affect the balance mechanism in your inner ear frequently lead to dizziness, with a feeling of vertigo that happens when you move your head.