What Ails You

 
 
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Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here's what it's about: Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in this country. An estimated 26... (Read More)
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Acne

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Acne is usually thought of as an adolescent problem, but dermatologists have been treating adults with blemishes for years. The technical term for such outbreaks of pimples is acne vulgaris. Common skin bacteria (mostly Propionibac-ter-ium acnes), the production of oils... (More On This Topic)

Allergies

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Breathing is basic. Most of the time we take it for granted. But if your nose is congested and your sinuses are stopped up, you are miserable. For one thing, your head feels as if it's full of cotton. Studies... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Unless you have had pruritus ani, you have no idea how it affects your whole life. Anal itching is absolutely like being tortured. You itch with an uncontrollable desire to scratch, whether on an airplane, in your office, walking... (Read More)
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Q. I struggled with a condition called angular cheilitis for 60 years. From the time I was five years old until two years ago I had redness, irritation and cracks at the corners of my mouth. When my family doctor... (Read More)

Anxiety

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Most of us are familiar with anxiety and stress. Who wouldn't feel nervous after getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service requesting an audit of last year's tax return? Or imagine yourself driving on a lonely road late at... (More On This Topic)
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Q. My brother has celiac disease and called to warn me last year. He asked if I was having lots of hard-to-treat health issues? I replied, yes! I have headaches that won't go away plus diarrhea, eye infections, rosacea and... (Read More)

Arthritis

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No one really knows how many people suffer from arthritis and related inflammatory conditions. The folks at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), who are in charge of tracking such things, put the number at close to 70... (More On This Topic)

Asthma

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The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimates that "between 14 and 15 million people have asthma, and many may not know they have the disease or how to control it." Hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are increasing... (More On This Topic)

Athlete's Foot

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There's a fungus among us and it is frequently found between our toes. This is probably the most common fungal infection known to mankind and you can understand why. There is no better place to set up housekeeping than... (More On This Topic)
 

Bad Breath

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Americans are obsessed about how we smell and advertisers have perfected ways to reinforce our fears. They sell products for virtually every indentation and orifice on the body. The mouthwash business is huge because we seem especially concerned about... (More On This Topic)
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Doctors love scientific explanations for how things work. That is why they are quick to prescribe medications for a variety of conditions. FDA approval provides reassuring evidence of effectiveness. Dietary supplements, herbs and home remedies rarely have scientific support and... (Read More)

Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure is a very big deal. According to the American Heart Association, it affects up to 65 million Americans (nearly one in three adults). The majority (more than 70 percent) are not controlling it adequately. For the most... (More On This Topic)

Burns

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Over the years we have received many different kinds of home remedies for minor burns; from cold soy sauce and fresh onion juice to to comfrey and honey. By far the most effective treatment remains cold water - for as... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I have suffered from bursitis in my right hip for about four years. I had six cortisone shots in my hip during this time. The first shots helped a lot, but the later ones did virtually nothing. I started... (Read More)
 
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Celiac disease remains mysterious, even to physicians. In this condition the body is unable to tolerate proteins found in gluten, a constituent of wheat, barley and rye grains. Although there is a genetic susceptibility, we do not know exactly why... (Read More)
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Q. After reading about hydrogen peroxide and Listerine, I wanted to add my method for treating mosquito bites. This was used on me when I was a child. With a cotton ball, dab Cepacol mouthwash on the bites. This stops... (Read More)
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Q. I honestly hate the taste of cinnamon, although my husband loves it in cookies, cakes or anything else. I am 53 and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes almost four years ago. My doctor has me on metformin twice... (Read More)
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Q. For about 15 years, I've gotten an ugly cold sore on my upper lip at the end of the summer. It is always painful, and it takes at least a month to heal. The remedies I tried didn't help... (Read More)

Constipation

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Many people feel that regularity is the key to good health. Is this true or is it a myth? Grandmothers around the world have promoted daily bowel movements for generations, but there is no evidence that a trip to the... (More On This Topic)

Constipation

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Constipation is so common that Americans spend a lot of money and effort looking for ways to manage this condition. The standard advice of fiber and fluids can often be helpful if incorporated into everyday routines, but sometimes that is... (More On This Topic)

Cough

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Trying to ease a cough can be a frustrating experience. If it arrived with a cold or another upper respiratory tract infection, it's likely to go away eventually, but those 2 or 3 weeks of suffering until it does can... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Our family has had several bouts of respiratory infections this fall. Our 5-year-old daughter is still coughing through the night and keeping everyone awake. We tried over-the-counter cough remedies but they didn't make much difference. My wife worries they... (Read More)
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Q. The secret for lowering my hubby's cholesterol about 100 points was to eliminate all unnatural oils. I wouldn't allow him to take the medications. I'd been brainwashed about using vegetable oils years ago and they made his cholesterol numbers... (Read More)
 

Dandruff

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Dandruff may be dastardly, but in general, it is not a serious medical condition. Though people who have it may by frustrated by it, or even desperate for relief, doctors don't get too excited when they see it. The flakes... (More On This Topic)
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Many people like to wear black because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that dark clothing makes them look thinner and more elegant. Millions spoil the stylish image they seek, though, when white flakes of dandruff show up on their shoulders.... (Read More)

Depression

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Almost everyone knows what it's like to feel sad. Losing a pet, a friend, or a loved one is devastating. Being fired or getting a divorce can send you into a tailspin. An accident or a serious disease affects not... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I have always suffered from terrible cold sores as far back as I can remember. I am especially vulnerable in the summer when I spend a lot of time outdoors. Even with lip balm that has a sunblock I... (Read More)

Diabetes

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Diabetes is one of the major health problems affecting Americans. In this condition, cells of the body can't get energy from the sugar (glucose) circulating in the blood. They may literally starve to death in the midst of plenty. Imagine... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I am in excellent health, but most of the day I lie on my bed praying for death. Why? I am dizzy all day long. My brain feels like it's sloshing in a bucket of water and every move... (Read More)
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Q. I am suffering terribly with eczema, aka atopic dermatitis. That's what my dermatologist calls my dry, red, itchy nasty skin. The doctor thought I might have an infection as well, and I have tried Bactroban antibiotic ointment as well... (Read More)
 
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Q. I suffer terribly from ear pain when flying. I take the decongestant pseudoephedrine, chew gum and blow my nose but none of these strategies is working any more to relieve the pressure. Do you have any recommendations? A. Over... (Read More)
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It is estimated that almost two-thirds of American adults are infected with the virus that causes cold sores or fever blisters. A red lesion on the lip or near the mouth can be embarrassing and painful. People seem to stare... (More On This Topic)

Eczema

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Eczema is one of those old-fashioned words, like apoplexy, that sounds as though it should have become obsolete. Unfortunately, the condition it describes is still very much in evidence, now perhaps more than ever. Dermatologists estimate that the red itchy... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Three nights ago I was awakened by a feeling of the room whirling around. Ever since then, I cannot bend down or turn my head without vertigo and I have vomited as well. I have taken Bonine but it... (Read More)
 
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This is the time of year that fungi thrive. Heat and humidity are the lifeblood for mold and mildew. Just check your shower curtain or the crawl space under your house in August to see signs of fungal growth. Your... (Read More)
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Are you afraid to put your best foot forward? This is the time of year when millions of Americans wish their feet were more presentable. Normally we take our tootsies for granted. We count on them to carry us around,... (Read More)

Foot Odor

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Some people really suffer with smelly feet. Any time they take their shoes off, family and friends complain. Sometimes, they complain a lot. This makes the tiresome routine of removing one's shoes to go through an airport security check even... (More On This Topic)
 

Gas

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We're not supposed to utter the F word in polite company. Physicians gussy it up by calling it flatus. Grandmothers use the euphemism "breaking wind." But adolescent boys love the word fart. And why not? It is what comes to... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I want to pass along a tip that I've been using for 20 years. I put about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in my coffee filter and then put coffee grounds on top. I get the benefits of the cinnamon... (Read More)
 

Headache

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Headaches are extraordinarily common, number seven on the list of reasons why people see their doctor. It is estimated that 45 million people suffer from chronic head pain. That doesn't begin to include those who have occasional headaches. Yet for... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Ice cream works very well against my migraines. I have suffered from these headaches for ten years and nothing has offered relief, not even strong painkillers. After reading that ice cream could help, I tried it. It relieves a... (Read More)
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Conventional wisdom has it that people who suffer migraine headaches should avoid chocolate. But a trucker tells us that, for him, a chocolate milk shake eases the pain of a migraine as well as Imitrex does. It works even though... (Read More)

Heartburn

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Humans have suffered from heartburn for all of history. Hippocrates warned in 400 BC that eating cheese after a full meal could cause indigestion, especially if accompanied by wine.380 Centuries ago, doctors called it dyspepsia, from Greek words meaning difficult... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Several months ago I went to the ER because of severe chest pain. I thought I was having a heart attack. After some tests they told me it was heartburn. My highly respected naturopathic doctor told me not to... (Read More)
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Hemorrhoids, while rarely serious, are very common and can be quite unpleasant. We asked gastroenterologist Nicholas Shaheen, MD, Director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I was suffering from severe diabetes-induced osteomyelitis (bone infection with open ulcers) on my foot. I was prescribed Medihoney to treat the ulcer. This is a waxy sheet of honey that you cut to the size of the wound... (Read More)
 
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Warning! August is the cruelest month when it comes to kidney stones. If you have not had a kidney stone, congratulations. You do NOT want to experience the pain that accompanies passage of one of these suckers. Women have told... (Read More)

Insomnia

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Whoever coined the phrase "sleeping like a baby" must have been childless. No parent who has ever walked the floor for hours with a fussy infant or gotten up for numerous nighttime feedings would imagine that babies sleep well. At... (More On This Topic)
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Q. A few years ago I was plagued with insomnia. I was exhausted, anxious and barely functional but never sleepy. Only sleeping pills knocked me out, but I hated the side effects. I read about vitamin D in your column.... (Read More)
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Q. I fell on a tour in Central and South America and a woman rushed to my aid from her post at the jewelry store. She started packing dry instant coffee onto my mooshed-up shin, assuring me she was a... (Read More)
 
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Leg cramps can strike out of the blue. One minute you are enjoying a bike ride or a hike and the next you are in excruciating pain. Just ask Lebron James about Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Basketball Finals.... (Read More)

Leg Pain

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Imagine this: You're sleeping peacefully, with not a care in the world. Then, like a bolt of lightning, you are wide awake and in excruciating pain. A muscle in your leg is contracting so strongly that it wakes you out... (More On This Topic)
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People with lower back pain often receive steroid injections to ease inflammation and suffering. The number of steroid shots you can get is limited, however, because cortisone-type drugs can slow wound healing and speed bone deterioration. A new study from... (Read More)
 
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Bad breath (halitosis in doctorspeak) is not a topic for polite conversation. In fact even your dentist or best friend may not bring up the subject of dragon breath. Many people are painfully aware of their breath problem. They chew... (Read More)

Meniere's Disease

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Meniere's disease is caused by an imbalance in the fluid of the inner ear. Symptoms include episodes of spinning dizziness lasting longer than 15 minutes accompanied by decreased hearing, pressure and ringing in the ear. Such attacks come and go,... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I had a full hysterectomy at age 49. My health is excellent otherwise, with no smoking, regular exercise and alcohol in moderation. My gynecologist put me on Estratest. I felt great on this but my skin became extremely oily... (Read More)

Menopause

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Decades ago, menopause used to be referred to in whispers as The Change. The mystery surrounding the event gave it a sinister aura. Now, though, more than 5,000 women enter menopause every day in the United States.721 That's because the... (More On This Topic)
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Q. I am in my late seventies, and my breasts are very large. In hot weather I used to have a serious problem with heat rash. Various creams and lotions didn't help much. Then I tried milk of magnesia, and... (Read More)
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Q. I walked all around the house for 10 minutes last night with a cramp in my ankle that wouldn't quit. Then I remembered my sister telling me to try mustard. I went to the refrigerator and got a dab... (Read More)
 

Nail Fungus

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Over the last several years, nail fungus has garnered public attention completely out of proportion with its seriousness. The medical term, onychomycosis (oh-nick-o-my-CO-sis), is long and scary, but it just means fungal infection of the nail. Perhaps so many people... (More On This Topic)
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Q. Friends have called in a panic about treating lice. Their six-year-old daughter brought them home from school. When I was a girl my parents used kerosene, but I hated it. These folks are reluctant to use insecticide on their... (Read More)
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Q. I have scars on my arms and legs after a bad outbreak of poison ivy. Are there any natural remedies for scars? A. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons report that no single therapy has been proven effective for reducing scars... (Read More)
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Q. Are there any natural approaches for the pain of neuropathy? A. There are two possibilities. One is alpha lipoic acid. A meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials demonstrated that it is safe and probably effective for treating diabetic nerve... (Read More)
 

Osteoporosis

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We tend to think of our bones as hard and unchanging, like the bones we find on our dinner plate. But actually, they are living tissues that undergo constant change and renewal, just like our other organs. Cells called osteoclasts... (More On This Topic)
 
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Q. I don't have restless leg syndrome (RLS) or nighttime leg cramps. Rather I have "restless foot," sometimes in the right foot, sometimes in the left. I can actually feel the energy building up in my foot when it comes... (Read More)
 
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Q. My sister is coming over in a week. I have dandruff on my face (eyebrows, nose, forehead and inside my ears). Can I cure it with Vicks or other remedies? Please tell me how. A. Facial dandruff is called... (Read More)
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Q. My husband and I have used Albolene as a sexual lubricant since the early 1970s. I'm not sure how we heard about it, but it's great: odorless, tasteless, slick but not messy. It comes in a white tub you... (Read More)
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Q. I recommend extra virgin coconut oil for vaginal dryness. It's a natural anti fungal and antibacterial. I use it a a sexual lubricant but also as a moisturizer for my face and neck. Stephanie  A. We have heard from... (Read More)
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Q. I want to thank you for writing about warts on teenagers. My son had been battling warts for years, but burning, cutting and immune response methods had not worked. One wart on the back of his Achilles tendon was... (Read More)

Sweating

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Why do we sweat? One important reason is to regulate body temperature. If we didn't have sweat glands in the skin all over our bodies, we'd need to stick out our tongues and pant like dogs to cool off in... (More On This Topic)
 

Thyroid

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Thyroid disease is one of the most common conditions in America, yet the cause remains mysterious. More than 20 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder; some of them don't even know it. They just feel awful. More than 80... (More On This Topic)
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Hypothyroidism is one of the most common conditions in the United States. No one really seems to understand why there is such epidemic of underactive thyroid function. Some chalk it up to normal aging or genetics. Others blame it on... (Read More)

Tinnitus

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Can you imagine anything more annoying than hearing a mosquito buzzing around your head and not being able to catch it? A dentist's drill might be a close match. Now imagine what it would be like to have crickets chirping... (More On This Topic)
 
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People who suffer from vertigo often feel desperate. If the problem is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, the world seems to spin any time they move their heads. It is extremely uncomfortable, even disorienting. BPPV is caused when calcium crystals in... (Read More)
 

Weight Loss

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By now you are probably sick and tired of hearing about the obesity epidemic in America. You already know that bigger is not better and that a large waist size increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart... (More On This Topic)
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Have you ever been awakened from a delightful dream by sudden excruciating pain in your leg? In an instant, your sleep is interrupted and you are desperate for relief. It is not entirely clear why some people are so susceptible... (Read More)