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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve heard that nonprescription decongestants can have significant side effects. Is this true? ANSWER: While many people rely on nasal ...
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My heels get very dry and cracked, and are sometimes painful. What can I do to help make them better? ANSWER: ...
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve heard many times that handwashing is the best way to prevent illness. But how often is it enough? I have small children, and I want to keep them as healthy as possible. Is hand sanitizer a good alternative to soap and water? ANSWER: You’re correct that frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and to keep from spreading any illness you may have to someone else. There’s no magic number for how often you should wash. Just try to make sure your hands are consistently clean. Soap and water always work well. But if you don’t have access to a sink, hand sanitizer is a good choice, too. Bacteria, viruses and other germs surround us every day and live in the same environments we do. As you touch objects, surfaces and other people, germs can be transferred to your hands. When you then touch your eyes, your nose or your mouth, the germs can get inside your body and potentially make you sick. Cleaning your hands gets rids of the germs, lowering your risk for illness.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What could cause chest discomfort or shortness of breath during exercise or other physical activity in women who have had a ...
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve had persistent headaches for about six months. Medication sometimes helps, but not always, and the pain just keeps coming back. My doctor checked to see if another medical problem could be causing the headaches, but she didn’t find anything. She now recommends I see a pain management specialist. What can they offer other than more medication? I’m missing a lot of work, and I’m afraid I’ll never get this under control. ANSWER: Chronic pain such as yours can be debilitating and, as you’ve seen, pain relievers aren’t always the solution. A specialist in pain management can assess your situation, give you alternative treatment options, and help you find ways to cope with the chronic headaches, so you can get back to living your life the way you want. As in your situation, when no underlying condition is found that’s causing chronic headaches, then treatment focuses on lowering the frequency and severity of the headaches, as well as reducing the disruption they cause in your daily life. One of the best ways to identify the type of headache you have, along with examining specific headache therapies, may be to consider seeing a headache specialist such as a neurologist.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am a 49-year-old man with a strong family history of coronary artery disease. Although I used to compete in triathlons, I just don’t have that kind of stamina anymore, and I become short of breath pretty easily. Should this be cause for concern? I also don’t have much time to exercise, so I run five or six miles just once or twice per week. Would another type of exercise be better for someone in my situation? ANSWER: With a family history like yours, along with what sounds like a loss of exercise capacity, it would be a good idea to see a cardiologist and have your situation evaluated. Testing may be able to show if you have any heart issues that need to be addressed. A cardiologist can also assess your exercise routines and other lifestyle issues that could have an impact on your heart health. Coronary artery disease happens when the major blood vessels that lead to your heart — your coronary arteries — become damaged or diseased, often due to a buildup of cholesterol-containing deposits, known as plaque, or inflammation.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’m 62 years old and am having difficulty keeping healthy weight on due to GERD and reflux. I am really confused about what foods and beverages I should avoid, and what foods will not make my reflux act up. What do you recommend mature adults who have this condition avoid, and what healthy food are best for my situation? ANSWER: In the past, doctors recommended quite a few dietary restrictions for people who had gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. But more recent recommendations advise against such restrictive diets. In fact, eliminating the wide range of foods that could be associated with reflux is no longer the norm. Instead, we now suggest only avoiding foods that you know make your symptoms worse. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight is important because being overweight has been shown to increase reflux. Acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus — the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. Occasional acid reflux is very common. Almost everyone experiences it from time to time. Acid reflux starts to become a problem when it happens frequently or if it involves large amounts of acid.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am 80 years old and had prostate cancer treatment several years ago. I later had several urine blockages requiring catheters, and doctors finally decided on a suprapubic catheter, which has functioned as expected for three years. Would it be possible for me to have the catheter removed and return to a normal manner of urinating? I am otherwise in good health and am wondering what complications may arise with such a procedure. ANSWER: When a suprapubic catheter is needed long-term, returning to normal urination usually isn’t feasible. In some cases, however, it may be possible. Working with your urologist, you can see if it might be an option in your situation. If not, and if you would still like to get rid of the catheter tube, other alternatives are available. A urinary catheter is a small plastic tube that drains urine from the bladder. A suprapubic catheter is a type of urinary catheter placed into the bladder through a small hole in the abdomen. The tube carries the urine outside of the body and is connected to a drainage bag that collects the urine.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am 79 years old. Lately I have had trouble sleeping, and I would like to try a sleeping pill. Are they safe for someone my age? ANSWER: An inability to sleep can be exhausting and frustrating. It saps your energy and goes hand in hand with problems such as depression, chronic pain, susceptibility to illness, high blood pressure and increased risk of accidents. Sleeping pills can at times be an effective component of sleep therapy. However, they need to be used cautiously, especially among older adults. Often, the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition contributing to poor sleep. This can include chronic pain, coughing, heart problems, difficulty breathing, digestive problems, acid reflux, thyroid problems and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or leg movement disorders. Alcohol or medications such as certain antidepressants, caffeine, decongestants, asthma drugs or pain medications also can contribute to insomnia. Because of this, it’s important that you first have a thorough medical evaluation.