When is back surgery the right choice?

Conservative back pain care should be tried before surgery because the results are often similar to those of surgery. Conservative back pain care consists of rest, waiting, pain relievers, and physical therapy. Spinal fusion has mixed results but could help in selected cases. One case is spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the space around the spine. When stenosis is accompanied by misalignment of the spinal vertebrae, fusion may be beneficial. However, a first option before fusion is laminectomy, a procedure that enlarges the space around the spinal nerves. More »

Ask the doctor: Mistaken migraines

Headaches are not the most common symptom of a chronic sinus condition. Frequent headaches that seem associated with a sinus condition may actually be due to migraines. Migraines can be stopped or shortened with proper use of medications. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Biking and the prostate

There is no good evidence that bicycling worsens existing prostate conditions, but prolonged biking may cause numbness in the genital area and possibly erectile dysfunction. Wider, softer seats can help to reduce numbness and discomfort. (Locked) More »

Online Alzheimer's tests: Unscientific and inaccurate

Online tests for Alzheimer’s disease are unreliable and unscientific. Some ask for sensitive personal information. In the end, they won’t reveal whether a person has dementia. People concerned about their memory should talk to their doctors instead. (Locked) More »

Hearts and heat: Take common-sense steps to stay safe this summer

To stay safe in extreme heat, otherwise fit, active men should know and stay within their limits. Avoiding work and exercise during the hottest times of the day and drinking adequate fluids help prevent problems. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and muscle cramps are signs that the body is unable to regulate its temperature in extreme heat. Men with cardiac conditions are at increased risk for developing heat-related problems. They should also understand how medications could alter their response to extreme heat. Flushed, clammy skin; heavy sweating; weakness, lethargy, loss of concentration, headache, and nausea are signs of heat exhaustion. This can progress to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency and can be fatal. Men who feel these symptoms should get to a cool place and drink fluids. More »

New drugs make treating hepatitis C faster and easier

Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to liver disease and cancer in a minority of infected people. An older drug therapy for HCV required oral drugs and weekly injections of a drug with potential for severe side effects and took up to a year. New drug regimens will dramatically reduce treatment duration and side effects while clearing the virus from the liver in a larger percentage of people. However, most people infected with HCV never progress to liver damage in their lifetimes, a fact that must be weighed against the emotional upset and potential stigma of a person being tested and finding out he is infected with the HCV virus. The cost of the new drugs is currently very high. (Locked) More »

Fresh or frozen produce? The health benefit is all in the mix

Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables differ in the variety and quantity of nutrients they contain. Fresh-picked local produce has the most nutritional value, but if it is unavailable or unaffordable, frozen produce is a viable alternative. Relying on a mix of fresh and frozen can help you get your five to nine fruits and vegetables a day. (Locked) More »

How to kick the sleeping pill habit

When people who use risky sleeping pills are provided the right information, they are more likely to work with their doctors to taper off the medications and adopt safer methods to combat insomnia. (Locked) More »

Living wills become more common

A study found that the number of older adults with advance directives or "living wills" has increased sharply but this didn't appear to make it less likely for people to die in the hospital. (Locked) More »