Drug package inserts can be confusing. The best way to understand drug side effects is to talk with a doctor or pharmacist. Older drugs generally have better information.
Ask the doctor: Should I be screened for lung cancer?
My doctor told me my B12 is extremely low, at 106, but he said I didn?t have anemia. He prescribed monthly shots and told me he would test my vitamin B12 levels again in two months. If my B12 level is so low, can you please tell me how only two shots can help?
Plantar fasciitis usually gets better without medical treatment. Stretching and weight training can speed the process.
These resolutions can improve your health: floss, walk more, eat healthier, learn a new skill, make new friends, lose weight, stop smoking.
Pneumonia can be life-threatening in people over 65. The high-strength flu vaccine and two pneumonia vaccines are recommended.
Light is the most effective treatment for the winter blues. Outdoor light is best. People with SAD benefit from light boxes and SSRI antidepressants.
Only meditation and acupuncture were deemed worth recommending as alternative therapies for side effects of breast cancer treatment.
One healthy habit can reduce stroke risk in women by a fourth; two, by a third; three or four, by nearly half; and four by almost two-thirds.
Capsules containing frozen donated fecal matter eradicated drug-resistant diarrhea in 90% of patients treated in a pilot study.
The 4 best ways to maintain your brain
Aerobic exercise, the Mediterranean diet, social connectedness, and undertaking challenges reduce the risk of dementia.
Ask the doctor: What can I do for antidepressant "discontinuation symptoms"?
I took a low dose of the antidepressant desipramine for more than two years for chronic pain. Once I started physical therapy, my pain improved so much that I quickly tapered off the medication. I have been off of it for a month now, but am still experiencing ?discontinuation symptoms.? I can?t sleep well and feel a little dizzy. What can I do for this?
Ask the doctor: I'm shorter than I once was but I weigh the same. Am I now too heavy for my height?
I am more than an inch shorter than I was a few years ago, but my weight has remained constant. I noticed that my body mass index (BMI) is just above 25. Does that mean than I am now overweight even though I haven?t put on any pounds?
Short of breath? Here's what you can do
If you have asthma, COPD, or both, getting the right mix of inhaled medications is critical to controlling your condition.
What you can do for dizzy spells
Dizziness can include lightheadedness and vertigo. It may be due to inner ear problems, nerve damage, low blood pressure, and medication side effects.
How to preserve your posture
Kyphosis, or dowager's hump, is caused by vertebral compression fractures. Diet, resistance exercise, and bone-building drugs help prevent it.
Take your workout to the pool
Water exercise makes it possible to get aerobic conditioning and strength training without putting weight on your joints.
Women over 70 may be getting unneeded radiation for breast cancer treatment
Despite evidence that radiation therapy doesn't affect recurrence in women over 70 with early breast cancer, almost two-thirds of women continued to get radiation.
Acupressure relieves constipation in small clinical trial
Study indicates that manual pressure applied to the area between the anus and genitals can relieve constipation.
Study links Mediterranean diet to longevity in women
A new analysis from the Nurses' Health Study links adherence to the Mediterranean diet with greater longevity.
Healthy travel: Don't let this common hazard spoil your best-laid plans
Blood clots in the legs (DVT) may break off and can be fatal. Simple travel precautions can reduce DVT risk.
Ask the doctor: I'm 75. Do I need a geriatrician?
Geriatricians are trained to care for older people who have several illnesses, take a lot of medications, and have physical or cognitive impairments. There is a growing shortage of these specialists.
Ask the doctor: What can I do for bunions?
Bunions are best treated by podiatrists, who can suggest the right shoes, inserts, and other treatments to relieve pain. Surgery is a last resort.
Good news about early-stage breast cancer for older women
Older women have many options for breast cancer screening and treatment and should make choices based on their health, life expectancy, and personal preferences.
Neck pain: Core exercises can help
Strengthening your core muscles with six easy exercises can help prevent neck pain.
Pelvic organ prolapse: You're not alone
About half of women over 50 have pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause discomfort, incontinence, or pain during sex.
Music can boost memory and mood
Music aids formation and recovery of memory. Individualized playlists can help people with dementia recover memories.
Full bladder wakes women more often than thought
Two-thirds of women over 40 have to urinate during the night. Drinking less before bedtime and avoiding alcohol and caffeine may help you sleep through the night.
Feeling younger may mean living longer
Feeling younger than your age is associated with a 40% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in the next eight years.
iPad can disrupt sleep, study suggests
Harvard researchers found that reading an 2010-model iPad before bedtime reset the circadian clock, causing people to feel less alert in the morning.
When are opioids safe to take?
Opioids can be safe for severe, acute pain following surgery or injury. They should be used carefully in the treatment of chronic pain.
Ask the doctor: Which bone density test should I have?
My doctor has recommended a bone density screening, but the medical center with the full-body scanner is a 45-minute drive from my house. A health fair at a neighborhood church offers a bone density test using a foot scanner. Would that be as accurate?
Ask the doctor: Which supplements do I need?
There seems to be agreement that supplements are worthless in supporting good health. I?ve been taking a multivitamin for older women for many years. I also take a calcium supplement since I am lactose intolerant. Should I discontinue the multivitamin, the calcium, or both?
"Advanced" cholesterol testing: Is it for you?
Advanced cholesterol testing, which includes measuring particle number and size, isn't necessary for most people, but may help people with high heart risk.
Why you should thank your aging brain
As we age, the brain compensates for slower processing by using more of its capacity for tasks that require reasoning and judgment.
6 ways to enjoy fiber in your diet
A daily intake of 25 to 35 grams of fiber reduces the risk of major diseases. Ideas for incorporating it into diet are given.
How you can drive safely at night
Age-related changes in vision shouldn't keep older people from driving at night. Having regular eye exams and taking measures to reduce glare are important.
Common drugs linked to dementia
Long-term use of anticholinergic drugs, including drugs for depression, sleeping, allergies, and bladder control, is associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Sitting may increase risk of early death
Sitting for hours at a time increases risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, even for people who exercise regularly.
A stable weight may reduce fracture risk
Contrary to conventional wisdom, postmenopausal weight gain, as well as weight loss, increases the risk of bone fractures.
Are you really getting enough exercise?
Intensity and duration of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training determine how effective a workout is.
Ask the doctor: I have a cataract but can still see well enough to drive. Should I have surgery?
I?m 82 and a landscape painter. Lately the sight in my right eye seems to be affecting my painting, although I can still see well enough to read small print and drive. I have a cataract in that eye. Should I have cataract surgery?
Ask the doctor: I fractured my hip three years ago, but my leg still hurts when I exercise. Should I stop exercising?
I?m a 78-year-old athlete and dancer. Three years ago, I broke my hip. After it was repaired I completed extensive physical therapy. Since then, I?ve been working out at a gym using the treadmill, stationary bicycle, and rowing machine. But I still have tremendous pain in my thigh. Should I stop exercising? It helps me control my weight and blood pressure.
6 ways to use your mind to control pain
Mind-body techniques can help reduce the need pain medication. Six techniques are described.
Menopause symptoms can last longer than you expect
Recent studies indicate that women may have menopausal symptoms into their 60s. Options for symptom relief are discussed.
How you can make colonoscopy prep easier
Colonoscopy saves lives, and adequate prep is essential for a successful colonoscopy. New laxative preps are making the process easier to tolerate.
Personalized medicine sounds futuristic, but it's really about your relationship with your doctor
Personalized medicine will always depend upon the doctor-patient relation, even when your doctor has your genome at hand.
Eating peanuts may extend your life
Peanuts are as effective as tree nuts in prolonging life.
Why do women fall?
Older age, alcohol consumption, medication use, diabetes, and osteoporosis are linked with an increased risk of falls for women, but not men.
Younger women get inadequate treatment for heart disease, survey finds
Women under 55 may be unaware of heart disease risk factors, They may not recognize the signs of a heart attack and fail to get preventive care and timely treatment.
7 good suggestions from the proposed dietary guidelines
The proposed 2015 federal guidelines advise following a plant-based diet instead of focusing on individual nutrients. They lift limits on fat and cholesterol and cap sugar.
Ask the doctor: I've already had shingles. Should I still get the shingles vaccine?
I had shingles in 2005 and haven?t had a shingles shot. I haven?t been able to find any studies that indicate whether a shot is feasible for people who have already had shingles. What do you recommend?
Ask the doctor: Which antidepressants have anticholinergic effects?
An article in your April issue, ?Common drugs linked to dementia,? states that anticholinergics are used to treat depression. I wasn?t aware of this. Which types of anticholinergics are used for depression?
Should you worry if you have a fainting spell?
Call your doctor the first time you faint. It may not be serious, but it can signal a heart problem.
What you should know about anesthesia
Anesthesia affects your experience and your recovery. Learn your options.
Shoulder pain? Here's what you can do to treat it and prevent it
Shoulder pain can usually be relieved with rest and ice packs. Physical therapy can help prevent future problems.
Staying one step ahead of toenail fungus
Toenail fungus is difficult to cure without resorting to oral treatments that can affect liver function. Topical treatment can improve nails' appearance.
New drug shows promise for early Alzheimer's disease
A new drug, aducanumab, slowed cognitive decline in people with early Alzheimer's in a small study. A larger study is planned.
Both work and parenting influence risk of early death
Data on women indicate that both family and work status throughout life influence longevity.
Vocabulary improves with age, research shows
A new Harvard study shows vocabulary continues to grow through one's 60s and 70s.
There is something you can do about Alzheimer's disease-join a study
Several clinical trials are testing promising new drugs to prevent and treat dementia.
Ask the doctor: I have pelvic organ prolapse. What types of exercise should I avoid?
I have pelvic organ prolapse and work out at the gym almost every day. Are there any forms of exercise that will make my situation worse?
Ask the doctor: My waist has expanded but I haven't gained weight. Is this because I've stopped wearing a belt?
The article in your December 2014 issue about women?s waistlines expanding the past few years intrigued me, because I have experienced an increase, and I have not gained weight. My theory is that the styles of the past few years?pants riding low on the hips, no belts at the waist, and loose shirts?may have caused my waist to increase from 24 to 25? inches. I am 59 years old, so it also could be aging in general, but I still think the belted styles kept women smaller. Am I right?
Can't wait to see the doctor? You have choices
Emergency rooms, urgent-care clinics and retail clinics are options when you can't see your doctor, but each has a different role.
What's the best way to lose weight?
Commercial weight-loss programs with counseling may help people lose a little weight, but long-lasting changes are essential in keeping pounds off.
Healthy ankles: Your mobility depends on them
Sprains and strains are common and usually not serious. Tendon stretches and proper footwear can prevent further injury.
Why I'm not prescribing statins for all my patients
Although statins are recommended for most people over 75, the risks and benefits of statin use in older people are largely unknown. Talk to your doctor about statins.
IV osteoporosis drug builds bone in older women who can't take the oral version
A zolendronate infusion can build bone in older women with osteoporosis who can't take oral bisphosphonates.
Physical therapy and back surgery equally effective, study shows
One of the few clinical trials to compare surgery to physical therapy for low back pain indicates that they are equally effective.
Treating sleep apnea may stave off cognitive decline
CPAP was linked to lower rates of cognitive impairment in people over 55 with sleep apnea.
How much calcium do you really need?
500 to 700 milligrams of calcium through diet and 800 to 1,000 of vitamin D as a supplement should be adequate to preserve bone density.
Ask the doctor: I have osteoporosis. Will physical therapy for my back cause spinal fractures?
I have sciatica. I also have vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis. I?d like to get physical therapy for my sciatica but am worried about damaging my spine further. What do you advise?
Ask the doctor: Why is the dietary sodium recommendation so low?
Why is the dietary sodium recommendation so low?
When do you need a new knee?
Knee replacements can relieve pain and restore function, but you shouldn't get one before you need it or wait until you are disabled.
How to avoid a disabling stroke
Reducing your risk factors for stroke, learning to recognize stroke symptoms, and calling 911 when needed can lower your risk of a disabling stroke.
Why your annual check-up is still important to your health
The annual visit is a good way to maintain a relationship with your primary care clinician, take stock of your health, and review your medications.
Do bone-building drugs really prevent hip fracture?
A review of more than 60 studies indicates that bone-building drugs have a minimal effect on preventing fractures.
Stopping estogen therapy may bring back the blues for some women
Estrogen therapy can alleviate depression in some women during menopause.
Exercise linked to lower atrial fibrillation risk for older women
An observational study of 40,000 women showed risk of atrial fibrillation dropped as exercise levels increased.
4 drug-free approaches to taming your bowel symptoms
Exercising, eliminating food triggers, reducing stress, and taking probiotics can help relieve irritable bowel symptoms.
Can brain stimulation aid memory and brain health?
Noninvasive brain stimulation can help with depression. It is also being used experimentally to treat nerve damage, neurologic disorders, and psychological conditions.
Does breathing through my mouth affect my dental health?
I find that I breathe through my mouth at night because my nose seems to stuff up once my head is on the pillow. Does sleeping with my mouth open affect my teeth and gums?
Is thyroid hormone causing my recent mood changes?
Is thyroid hormone causing my recent mood changes?
5 skin spots you shouldn't worry about
Most skin spots are harmless, but it's important to be able to distinguish them from skin cancers and precancers.
DASH or Mediterranean: Which diet is better for you?
Both DASH and Mediterranean diets promote overall health. Which is better for you depends on your taste preferences and health goals.
When urinary tract infections keep coming back
Low-dose antibiotics can help women who are prone to UTIs. They can be used after sex, only when symptoms occur, or continuously.
Using nonprescription pain relievers safely
Alternating acetaminophen with an NSAID may provide as much pain relief with fewer side effects than taking either drug alone.
Study gives new insights into obesity and breast cancer
An analysis of data from the Women's Health Initiative indicates that a woman's risk of breast cancer rises across increasing weight levels.
Exercise prevents serious injuries in women who fall
Exercise training can reduce the risk of serious injury from falls in older women.
Too little-or too much-sleep linked to dementia risk
Postmenopausal women who sleep either less than six or more than eight hours a night have an increased risk of dementia.
Is chocolate really a health food?
Most chocolate has too many calories, and not enough heart-healthy flavanols, to qualify as a health food.
Should all hemorrhoids be treated?
I had a colonoscopy recently and it detected hemorrhoids. I don?t have any symptoms. Should I be doing something to get rid of them?
Sidestepping big-toe woes
Bunions and arthritis of the big toe can be prevented by wearing appropriate shoes and treated with ice, nonprescription pain relievers, and shoe inserts.
4 vaccinations you may need
Adults need an annual flu shot and a Tdap booster every 10 years. People over 60 need a shingles shot, and those over 65 should have two pneumonia vaccines.
What's the scoop on bone soup?
Bone broths are good sources of protein but haven't been shown to decrease inflammation, protect joints, or erase wrinkles.
What you can learn from the oldest old
Resilience is common among the longest-lived women. It can be developed through five simple practices.
Olive oil consumption linked with slightly lower diabetes risk for women
An analysis of data from the Nurses' Health Study links increased consumption of olive oil with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Vigorous exercise may counter cognitive decline in early Alzheimer's
In a small clinical trial of people with mild cognitive impairment, vigorous exercise increased performance on cognitive tests and reduced levels of a component of amyloid plaques.
Increased mammography may find more breast cancers without lowering deaths
An analysis of data from 16 million women indicates that increased mammography screening detects more small breast cancers but doesn't reduce breast-cancer deaths.
Do you need a thyroid test?
Low levels of thyroid hormone, which might not cause symptoms, can still raise "bad" cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk.
Ask the doctor: Do I need gallbladder surgery?
It's important to get treatment for gallstones that cause recurrent pain. Surgery is often necessary to prevent serious complications.
Ask the doctor: Are diet drinks safe?
I?ve been drinking Fresca since I was in college. Lately I?ve been reading that diet drinks may cause weight gain and have other bad effects. Is that true?
Addyi is not a "female Viagra," but it can open an important discussion
The side effects of flibanserin may not be worth the modest benefits for most women with low sexual desire.
Two types of drugs you may want to avoid for the sake of your brain
Benzodiazepines and drugs with strong anticholinergic effects have been linked to Alzheimer's disease in people who take them. There are alternatives to both types.
A few things you might not know about alcohol
Alcohol is processed differently from other nutrients. Women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men do.
What you can gain by exercising longer and harder
Exercising vigorously for 20 to 40 minutes several times a week can improve aerobic capacity and reduce the risk of premature death.
Research we're watching: Working overtime may raise stroke risk
An analysis of 600,000 European and Americans linked working more than 55 hours a week with a 30% greater risk of stroke for women.
Research we're watching: Analysis raises new questions about treating noninvasive breast cancer
An analysis of National Cancer Institute data indicates that many women with ductal carcinoma in situ may not benefit from lumpectomy and radiation.
Research we're watching: Small study shows little bone benefit from recommended dose of vitamin D
In a randomized controlled trial of 260 postmenopausal women, 800 IU of vitamin D taken daily for a year didn't prevent bone fractures.
How low should your blood pressure be?
Lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg with lifestyle changes or medication offers additional protection against heart attack, stroke, and death.
Ask the Doctor: Will Prozac help my premenstrual depression?
I?ve had some severe bouts of depression before my periods. I have done my own research and I am willing to try an antidepressant. What dosage of Sarafem or Prozac is usually given to treat this?
Ask the Doctor: Does the way I urinate make me more prone to UTIs?
Your recent article on recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) didn?t mention much about urination. One of my friends told me that it could influence my chance of getting a UTI. Is that true?
9 ways to relieve acid reflux without medication
Acid reflux can often be controlled with a few lifestyle changes.
Why you fall-and what you can do about it
Exercise to develop strong, powerful core muscles is the best way to prevent falls. Minimizing physical and environmental hazards is also important.
Vanquishing varicose veins
Exercise and support hose can control varicose veins; minimally invasive outpatient procedures can eradicate them.
Are weight-loss drugs worth trying?
New weight-loss drugs add to options for treating obesity in conjunction with diet and exercise.
Research we're watching: Study suggests tai chi improves life for people with chronic health problems
An analysis of 33 studies indicates that tai chi is more effective than other forms of exercise in improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions.
Research we're watching: High olive oil consumption linked to lower breast cancer risk
Adding extra-virgin olive oil to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk.
Research we're watching: Survey finds wide use of compounded postmenopausal hormones
A third of women who use postmenopausal hormones take "bioidentical" hormones from compounding pharmacies, but they report more side effects than women taking FDA-approved hormones.
Cosmetic techniques such as fractional laser resurfacing, neuromodulators, and dermal fillers can help improve the skin's appearance by minimizing wrinkles and discoloration.
You don't need to set large goals to have large accomplishments. Taking small steps can help women make huge strides toward achieving their goals.
Having a pet-particularly a dog-has been associated with lower heart disease risk factors and greater longevity. Pets provide companionship and opportunities for exercise, among other benefits.
Certain medications can reduce a woman's risk for developing breast cancer. Women at high risk for breast cancer should talk with their doctors about this prevention strategy.
New guidelines may expand female candidates for these cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn't apply to women on Medicare or to the vast majority of women currently covered by their employers.
Diet plus exercise is more effective than either intervention alone for reducing pain and improving function in overweight people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Hormone therapy is not recommended for chronic disease prevention, although it can be helpful for menopause symptom relief in some women.
Walking for seven hours a week may help lower breast cancer risk. The more exercise women get, the lower their risk drops.
Having a second bone mineral density screening four years after the initial baseline test doesn't provide additional useful information to help doctors manage osteoporosis.
Chocolate: Pros and cons of this sweet treat
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, which have beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood flow, and other heart risks. Still, it's important to eat chocolate in moderation, because it's also high in fat and calories.
Ask the doctor: Do you need to see a doctor after a fall?
Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are common in older adults. Any time a woman over age 65 falls, she should see her doctor to determine the cause of the fall and take steps to prevent another.
Ask the doctor: What should I do about bloating and gas?
To prevent gas and bloating, limit foods that cause it, such as beans, broccoli, and dairy. Various supplements can help prevent uncomfortable gas. Eating smaller meals and chewing slowly can also help.
Effective exercises for osteoporosis
The ideal workout program for osteoporosis combines weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening, flexibility, and balance exercises.
4 important blood tests for women-and what the results mean
Four routine blood tests give women important information about their health by measuring levels of blood sugar, lipids, thyroid hormones, and vitamin D. Women should ask their doctors how often they need these tests.
How to prevent colorectal cancer
There are several things women can do to reduce their risk of getting colon cancer. Lifestyle strategies should focus on eating less red meat, exercising more, and taking vitamin D and calcium when appropriate.
8 reasons why you're not sleeping
Many conditions, including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, pain, and stress, can disrupt your rest. Managing these factors and practicing good sleep habits can help you get a better night's rest.
Research we're watching: To stay healthy and live longer, go nuts
Research suggests that eating nuts daily may reduce the risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.
Research we're watching: Exercise may help delay hip replacement
Engaging in an exercise program may help people with osteoarthritis of the hip delay the need for surgery.
Research we're watching: Could cataract surgery extend your life?
People who underwent cataract surgery were more likely to be alive 10 years later, compared with those who continued to have vision problems. It's possible that this surgery may improve physical and emotional well-being, contributing to the longer life sp
Research we're watching: Sodas linked to endometrial cancer
Drinking sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages may increase the risk of the most common type of endometrial cancer. Sugar-free drinks didn't confer the same risks.
Mini-stroke: What should you do?
The symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) often go away on their own, but they are a warning that a person is at greatly increased risk for a true stroke.
Ask the doctor: Why am I carrying more of my weight around my middle?
Increased belly fat may have to do with a loss of height as women age or hormonal changes during menopause. Making dietary changes can help control this extra weight around the middle.
Ask the doctor: Can flaxseed and red yeast rice supplements lower cholesterol?
Flaxseed and red yeast rice may help lower cholesterol, but women should check with their doctor before taking them.
Why you need a bone density scan
To avoid a fracture, women over 65 and those at risk for osteoporosis should have a baseline bone density scan. How often they need additional scans depends on their fracture risks.
Staying active when it's hard to move
Experts recommend getting 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, but it can be hard for people with arthritis or other mobility-limiting conditions to get that exercise. A number of exercise techniques can help people with reduced mobility.
Tea: Drink to Your Health?
Drinking tea provides a number of health benefits, from lowering heart disease and stroke risk, to protecting against several types of cancer. The less processed tea leaves are, the more health-promoting compounds they contain.
Vitamin and mineral supplements: Do you need them?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has found insufficient evidence to recommend vitamin or mineral supplements for the purpose of disease prevention.
New treatments for incontinence
New options for treating incontinence in women include Botox injections, Myrbetriq, the Oxytrol patch, and mini-sling procedures.
Research we're watching: New blood pressure guidelines released
New guidelines raise the threshold for drug treatment of high blood pressure to 150/90 mm Hg in adults ages 60 and older.
Research we're watching: Lose a few pounds to help your heart
Losing 10% of their body weight can help overweight women improve heart risks such as unhealthy LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation). Even women who lose smaller amounts of weight can see improvements in heart risks.
Research we're watching: Drug cuts breast cancer risk by more than half
The aromatase inhibitor drug anastrozole (Arimidex) reduces the chance of developing breast cancer by 53% in postmenopausal women at high risk for the disease.
Research we're watching: Older women with heart disease more likely to have memory problems
Women with heart disease or who've had a past heart attack may be at greater risk for memory and thinking problems as they age.
Should you be tested for dementia?
Routine screening for dementia is currently not recommended for people without symptoms.
Ask the doctor: Will bisphosphonate infusions help me avoid a bone break?
Zoledronic acid is an intravenous drug that is very effective for treating osteoporosis, especially for women who can't remember to take once-a-week medication.
Ask the doctor: Can strength training exercises help with COPD?
When women have COPD, strength training can make their muscles more efficient at releasing oxygen from your blood.
A new way to get heart-healthy
New guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology focus on heart disease risk rather than cholesterol numbers.
Is it a food intolerance, allergy, or something else?
True food allergies involve an immune system response and can be very serious, while intolerances more commonly involve the digestive tract and are more of a nuisance.
8 tips to protect and preserve aging skin
To keep skin looking its best at any age, women should follow a few daily skin care tips. Wear sunscreen and moisturize. Use gentle cleansers, and keep showers short.
The best solutions for your hearing problem
Nearly half of people over age 75 need extra help hearing, but only a quarter of them wear a hearing aid. Hearing aids take the work out of hearing by amplifying sound.
Research we're watching: Want to extend your life? Avoid too much sitting
Postmenopausal women who spend the most time each day in sedentary activities face a greater risk of dying from all causes than those who are more active.
Research we're watching: More good news about the Mediterranean diet
Research released as part of the PREDIMED study finds that a Mediterranean diet may help prevent peripheral artery disease and type 2 diabetes.
Research we're watching: Feeling stressed or anxious? Try meditating
A review of 47 studies on meditation finds the practice can help with anxiety, depression, and pain, although it doesn't have much of an effect on eating habits, sleep, weight, or attention.
Is a vegetarian or vegan diet for you?
Going vegetarian or vegan has numerous health benefits. There are many enjoyable ways to eat a plant-based diet.
Ask the doctor: What can I do about bladder infections?
Postmenopausal women are at greater risk for repeat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Antibiotics and other treatments can decrease the number of infections.
Ask the doctor: How can I treat mild depression?
Minor or mild depression is fairly common in women. It is generally short-lived. If your symptoms get worse or persist after a month or so, then you may need therapy or medication.
Managing your blood pressure: What the new guidelines mean for you
Blood pressure guidelines released in late 2013 raise the threshold for treatment in people ages 60 and older to 150/90. Yet for now, experts advise sticking with the 140/90 goal.
Preparing for the future: How to have that difficult conversation
It's hard to think about a time when you may be ill or unable to care for yourself. Yet it's important to start considering the kind of care you would want when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Taking the first steps for planning end-of-life conversations
It's important to appoint a health care proxy-someone who can carry out your health care wishes if you can no longer speak for yourself.
Before you consider a joint replacement-what you need to know
Joint replacement surgery can help women with degenerative joint disease get around more easily. Yet women need to make the decision carefully, with guidance from their doctors.
What's hiding in your medicines?
Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or adverse health effects in people who are sensitive to them.
New advice to help women lower their stroke risk
New stroke guidelines for women, released in February 2014, recommend that women over age 75 get screened for atrial fibrillation, and those ages 65 to 79 should consider taking a daily baby aspirin to prevent stroke.
High blood pressure drugs linked to falls
Blood pressure medicines have been linked to an increased risk for fall-related injuries in older adults. The reason isn't entirely clear, but medication side effects could be a factor.
Taking a daily aspirin might reduce ovarian cancer risk
Women who take a daily aspirin appear to be at lower risk for ovarian cancer.
8 tips for pain-free summer travel
Tips to avoid arthritis pain during travel include packing light, using wheeled luggage, taking along pain relievers, and bringing accessories that can make travel more comfortable.
Ask the doctor: When should I stop getting screening tests?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women generally no longer need to have Pap smears after age 65, and mammograms and colonoscopies after age 75.
Ask the doctor: How can I treat back pain?
Physical therapy, exercise, and pain medications are first approaches to treating back pain. Surgery should be a last resort.
What too much sugar could do to your heart
Sugar can contribute to heart disease risk. Research finds people who get 25% of their daily calories from sugar nearly triple their risk of death from heart disease.
What to do about pelvic organ prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is a common complaint among women. Women have three main options for treating prolapse: pelvic floor physical therapy, a pessary, or surgery to support the displaced organs.
COPD: Could you be at risk?
In the 20th century, COPD was considered a man's disease. Today, women account for more than half of all COPD deaths. Any current or past smokers, as well as women with a family history of COPD, should get tested.
Are you wearing the correct eyeglass prescription?
Conditions like farsightedness, cataracts, and macular degeneration can affect vision with age. It's important for women to see their eye doctor for regular visits and to make sure they leave with the right eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
What's for dinner?
Cooking at home can be challenging because of time, money, and a lack of ideas. Adding one meal at home a week, using websites and cookbooks to find recipe ideas, is a gradual way to ease into home cooking.
Hearing loss linked to depression, especially in women
People with hearing loss are more likely to have depression. This is particularly true in women.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements improve cholesterol in older women
Taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increased HDL (good) cholesterol in postmenopausal women.
Any elevated blood pressure-no matter how slight-might increase stroke risk
People with even mildly elevated blood pressure are at greater risk for strokes. Researchers say diet and exercise can help lower blood pressure, and with it, stroke risk.
Foods that fight inflammation
Pro-inflammatory foods include fried foods, sodas, refined carbohydrates, and red meat. Green vegetables, berries, whole grains, and fatty fish are thought to combat the inflammatory process.
Ask the doctor: How can I prevent leg cramps at night?
Nighttime foot and calf cramps are common in people over age 50. They're often caused by standing for long periods or by nerve damage. Stretching and using ice or heat can help relieve them.
Ask the doctor: What can you do if you constantly feel cold?
Older people often tend to feel cold because they lose the insulating layer of fat beneath the skin, metabolism slows, and they lose muscle mass. Regular exercise is one way to build muscle mass and stay warmer.
Breast cancer screening: Options beyond the mammogram
Digital and 3D mammography may slightly increase cancer detection rates and reduce repeated testing. Other new technologies are in development, but they aren't likely to replace the mammogram anytime soon.
Osteoporosis drugs: Which one is right for you?
Women with osteoporosis have many options for preserving bone strength and preventing fractures. The mainstays of treatment are bisphosphonate drugs.
Simple exercises to prevent falls
Changes to the brain and nervous system, vision, muscles, and other systems that control balance can lead to an increased risk for falls. Strength training, balance exercises, stretches, and other forms of exercise can help prevent falls.
Caring for the grandkids could improve your brainpower
Caring for their grandchildren one day a week could help women stay mentally sharp as they age. However, spending five days a week with the grandkids could have the opposite effect.
Pain relievers linked to risk for irregular heart rhythm
NSAIDs are linked to a higher risk for atrial fibrillation. It's important for people with a history of high blood pressure or heart failure to use caution when taking these drugs.
Incontinence could increase odds of depression in women
Women with incontinence may be at greater risk for depression and work disability. Treatments can have significant effects on the condition and its psychological side effects.
Prevent falls and immobility: Start with these strength-training tips
Strong muscles are essential to independence and health as people get older. Because muscle strength naturally declines with age, exercises that build muscle are important.
Ask the doctor: How do I organize my pills?
Nearly 40% of people over age 60 take five or more medicines, which can lead to errors. Some pharmacies will package pills to make them easier to organize and take.
Ask the doctor: How safe are opioid pain relievers?
Long-acting opioids are appropriate for chronic pain, but it's important to have a detailed discussion with the doctor about their benefits and risks before starting on these medicines.
Predicting heart disease risk in women
Biomarkers are substances produced by the body that can help assess disease risk.
Summer skin safety
The best way to protect against sun damage and skin cancer is to practice good sun protection when outside.
What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health
Meditation is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. There are many different forms of meditation, including transcendental and mindfulness.
How to avoid overload and burnout
It's important for women to slow down the pace of their day and take better care of themselves, even if they focus on one thing at a time-like going to bed earlier.
Staying socially active is good for your health
Staying mentally and physically active and having strong social connections can improve your overall health.
Exercise to protect your heart
Regular exercise throughout a woman's life is important for preventing cardiovascular disease in women and for improving heart rhythms.
One drink a day might prevent a stroke-but don't overdo it
Having one alcoholic drink per day may lower stroke risk, but increasing the number of drinks might have the opposite effect.
Time for your flu vaccine: Do you need a higher dose?
The high-dose flu vaccine may trigger a greater immune response against the virus in adults ages 65 and over and may increase protection against the flu.
Ask the doctor: Can I treat myself for a yeast infection?
Though it is possible to self-treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter antifungal cream, it's a good idea to see a doctor or nurse practitioner who can recommend treatment.
Ask the doctor: Should I keep taking sleeping pills?
Sleeping pills can be safe and effective when used short-term, but continued use isn't recommended and may make restful sleep harder to come by.
Get on your feet: 8 creative ways to avoid too much sitting
Too much sitting is bad for your health. It can lead to weight gain, health problems like diabetes and heart disease, and early death.
Where did I put that? Tips to improve your memory
Using tools such as calendars, cellphone alarms, and organizing apps can aid with memory. Low-tech techniques like saying names aloud and breaking down tasks into smaller chunks can also help you remember.
What to do about thinning hair
Age-related and female-pattern hair loss are common in women. Although there is no cure that can completely restore lost hair, treatments or creative styling can help.
Why snoring could be a sign your heart is at risk
Sleep apnea interferes with restful sleep and may raise heart disease risk. Women who snore or experience daytime sleepiness should consider seeing a doctor to determine if they have sleep apnea.
Got milk? It might help your arthritis
Drinking low-fat or skim milk may slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis, but higher-fat dairy products such as cheese don't seem to have the same benefit.
An exercise program can keep you moving
A structured physical activity program could help reduce the risk of disability in older adults at risk.
Could protein lower stroke risk?
Research suggests a possible connection between eating extra protein and a lower risk for stroke.
How to lower your cholesterol without drugs
Trans fats and saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels. A diet rich in unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables can lower them.
Ask the doctor: What should I do for thyroiditis?
The term thyroiditis is used to describe a diverse group of disorders, all of which include some form of thyroid inflammation.
Ask the doctor: Is there a pill for mild cognitive impairment?
There is no evidence that for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) taking any sort of pill-prescription or otherwise-prevents their memory problems from getting worse.
Botox: It isn't just for wrinkles
Botox is a useful treatment for chronic headache, excessive underarm perspiration, overactive bladder, and other conditions caused by muscle spasms.
Enjoying sex later in life
Sexual difficulties may increase with age. Identifying the cause and finding an effective treatment is possible with a little work.
7 Easy things you can do today for a healthier tomorrow
The best health habits are ones you can stick with. Try moderate exercise and an LDL-lowering diet, plus a few cups of coffee and a little chocolate.
Does a statin prevent dementia?
Statins probably don't cause memory loss, but there isn't enough evidence that they prevent dementia, either.
Should you say goodbye to the annual pelvic exam?
The pelvic exam has been part of the "well-woman" visit for generations. According to new guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP), that ritual may be coming to an end.
Acetaminophen may not help low back pain
The first advice you are likely to get if you have low back pain is "take a Tylenol." However a study published July 24, 2014, online by the journal Lancet indicates that you might do just as well without Tylenol.
Why women stop exercising
It's common knowledge that regular exercise helps you feel better and stay healthier. So why do so many people stop exercising?
4 easy ways to cut your drug spending
Four ways to save on prescription drugs are to use generics, eliminate unnecessary drugs, stop buying supplements, and compare prices.
Ask the doctor: How does protein in grams translate to portion size in ounces?
The grams of protein in a serving of meat aren't the same as the weight of a portion because protein makes up only part of a food's weight.
Ask the doctor: My statin is causing muscle pain. What should I do?
The muscle pain from statin use can signal several conditions. If you have pain, stop taking the drug, see your physician, and look for alternative ways to reduce your cholesterol.
What do irregular heartbeats mean?
Some irregular heartbeats are benign: others can be serious, requiring medical attention. They can be treated with drugs, electric shock, devices, or surgery.
Hands don't work like they used to? Help is on the way
There are effective treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, arthritis, Raynaud's phenomenon, and wrist fractures.
A holiday advisory for your emotions
Holidays tend to intensify feelings across the emotional spectrum. If you dread them, you can develop survival strategies. If you love them, enjoy and reap the health benefits.
Exercising outdoors in cold weather
Dr. Anne Fabiny discusses how she prepares for exercising outdoors in cold weather.
Study may explain why older people don't sleep well
The discovery of a "sleep switch" in the human brain helps explain why some older people have trouble sleeping and opens new areas of research into treatments.
Study identifies effective testosterone dose for women
A study has shown that a 5-mg dose of testosterone cream restores premenopausal levels in women.
Higher-dose flu vaccine is more protective in people over 65
A study found that high-dose flu vaccine is 24% more effective than the regular dose in older people.
Keep your weight down and your energy up with the glycemic index
The glycemic index indicates how fast carbs are converted to sugar. Substitute low-glycemic natural foods for sugary, starchy, and processed foods.
Ask the doctor: Is there a connection between sedatives and Alzheimer's?
Benzodiazepine use longer than three months linked to increased dementia risk. Cognitive side effects make them unsuitable for seniors.
Ask the doctor: Why did the doctor ask about my marital relationship?
Medical professionals are required to report signs of elder abuse, so doctors may question you about your relationships if you've been injured.
What you can do for dry eyes
Dry eye increases with age. Avoid eyestrain, irritants, bright light, and fixed staring. Eyedrops, glasses, and blinking can help.
When to get help for low back pain
Low back pain is caused by disc rupture or arthritis. It can be treated with painkillers, exercise, physical therapy, steroid injections, or surgery.
Do you need all the drugs you're taking?
Drug effectiveness and side effects change with age. Review your drugs regularly with your doctor.
High blood pressure after 60
People over 60 should aim for a blood pressure of 150/90 or lower, with as few drugs as possible to avoid side effects and drug interactions.
Artificial sugars may raise blood sugar
New evidence suggests that saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame raise blood sugar levels and affect intestinal bacteria. More study is needed to confirm the findings.
Women's waistlines are still increasing, study shows
Although the level of obesity has plateaued recently at around 35% of the population, waistlines are continuing to increase.
Are screening mammograms worth it after age 70?
A Dutch study indicates that screening mammograms lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment in women over 70. Women should discuss screening with their doctors.
Dietary supplements: Do they help or hurt?
To make up for what's lacking in our diets, many women take nutritional supplements. However, randomized controlled trials have shown these supplements may not be as beneficial as was once thought-and may even be risky.
Ask the doctor: What is Mohs surgery?
My dermatologist is recommending Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell cancer on my nose. What does this involve?
Ask the doctor: Why does alcohol affect women differently?
Is it true that women are more susceptible than men to the effects of alcohol, and if so, why is this?
Should you be screened for a hearing problem?
Hearing loss is an inevitable part of aging, but it can be treated. Hearing aids today are better and smaller than ever before, and they can prevent women from missing out on important conversations.
Hair loss: It's not just for men
Hair loss is a common problem in men and women, yet many women feel embarrassed to seek treatments (most of which are intended for men). Treatments for women include topical minoxidil (Rogaine) and hair transplants.
Antioxidant-rich diet protects women's hearts
Women who eat antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have a lower heart attack risk, according to a recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine.
Could you have a thyroid problem-and not know it?
Many older women have an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, yet don't meet the criteria for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. A blood test can reveal a subclinical thyroid problem.
In the journals: Delaying help for a heart attack could be especially deadly for women
Women often delay getting medical help for heart attack symptoms and wait longer for treatment once they arrive at the hospital.
In the journals: Exercise protects against age-related brain shrinkage
A study published in the journal Neurology finds that walking and other physical activity can protect the brain from age-related cognitive changes.
In the journals: EBotox as effective as oral medication for overactive bladder
Botox injections work just as well as oral anticholinergic medicines in reducing urge incontinence, although side effects of the two treatments can differ. This study suggests that Botox might be a first-line treatment option for incontinence.
New hope for Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease research has started to focus on prevention. Investigators are looking at targets such as beta-amyloid and tau tangles in the brain, as well as inflammation and blood vessel damage.
Ask the doctor: Do I need to worry about high triglycerides if I have normal cholesterol?
Even when cholesterol levels are normal, high triglycerides increase the risk of developing heart disease, especially in postmenopausal women
Ask the doctor: What can I do about foot pain caused by Morton's neuroma?
Morton's neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue between the bones at the base of the toes. It is more common in women than in men. Treatment usually starts with wearing shoes with wide toe boxes and low heels.
Sex and your heart
Research finds that 60% of women are less sexually active after a heart attack, often because they're afraid sex will trigger another attack. Cardiac rehabilitation can help women with heart disease safely have sex again.
Common vision problems in women
Cataracts, dry eyes, and presbyopia are common eye conditions among older women. Having regular eye exams can detect serious problems early and help avoid vision loss.
Do you need to see your gynecologist every year?
New Pap test guidelines have prompted some health experts to question the value of annual gynecological exams.
In the journals: Other colon cancer tests may be good alternatives to repeat colonoscopy
After a negative colonoscopy at age 50, less invasive screening tests may be just as accurate, but carry less expense and risk for complications, than repeating the colonoscopy every 10 years.
In the journals: Digital tablets make reading easier
Enlarged font sizes available on digital tablets can improve reading speed and comfort in people with vision loss.
In the journals: Quit smoking and live longer
Women who quit smoking can dramatically increase their life span, according to a study of more than one million women conducted in Britain.
In the journals: Breast cancer drugs linked to heart failure in older women
Older women who are being treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin), alone or with a class of chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines, may be at increased risk for heart failure and heart muscle damage.
12 "superfoods" you should be eating
One way to get more nutrients into the diet is to eat more "superfoods," such as broccoli, salmon, eggs, beans, walnuts, oatmeal, olive oil, tea, quinoa, and dark chocolate.
Ask the doctor: Will probiotics help IBS?
Probiotics may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. But they shouldn't be used by individuals with compromised immune systems.
Ask the doctor: Do nasal saline washes prevent sinusitis flare-ups?
A nasal saline wash may help prevent sinusitis flare-ups. A steroid nasal spray may also help.
Hormone therapy update
Hormone therapy is no longer recommended for chronic disease prevention, although experts say many women can still use it early in menopause to relieve symptoms.
Repairing the heart with stem cells
Researchers have been studying the use of stem cells to repair damage caused by a heart attack. Some studies show that stem cell therapy can reduce scar tissue and improve the heart's function.
Needling away chronic pain
Acupuncture may be helpful for reducing pain in many chronic conditions, such as back pain, neck pain, and headache.
Many women who have been diagnosed with cancer in one breast opt to have a preventive double mastectomy. Yet 70% of these women may be having the surgery unnecessarily, research finds.
In the journals: Loneliness might signal mental decline ahead
Older adults who feel lonely face more than double the risk of developing dementia, according to a study of more than 2,000 people in Amsterdam.
In the journals: Taking more steps could reduce women's heart risks after menopause
Walking at least 6,000 steps a day can help reduce a woman's risk for heart disease and diabetes, even if she's already gone through menopause.
In the journals: Why you still need pertussis vaccination
Pertussis rates are rising in all age groups. An Australian study found that older adults with pertussis are more likely to need hospitalization, which underscores the need for older adults to get vaccinated.
In the journals: Positive outlook speeds recovery
People who have a positive attitude about the aging process have an easier time recovering from disability than those with a negative attitude.
7 simple ways for women to get active
Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise. Breaking up that exercise into 10-minute sessions can be just as beneficial as exercising for longer periods of time.
Ask the doctor: How can positional vertigo treatment affect tinnitus?
A physical maneuver called the Epley maneuver can help ease positional vertigo, but won't do anything for tinnitus.
Ask the doctor: Can glucosamine and chondroitin help osteoarthritis?
Glucosamine and chondroitin are dietary supplements advertised to ease osteoarthritis pain and maintain cartilage. Large trials show that they offer little benefit for treating osteoarthritis, except perhaps in people with moderate to severe pain.
Why breast density matters
Having dense breasts can increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer and can make screening challenging. Women should discuss all of their breast cancer risks-including breast density-with their doctor.
High blood pressure a silent danger in postmenopausal women
Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure, and in about half this condition is poorly controlled. Controlling blood pressure can help avert cardiovascular disease.
Test for ovarian, endometrial cancers
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a test they say can detect ovarian and endometrial cancers from fluid taken during a routine Pap test.
Testosterone therapy: Is it for women?
Testosterone therapy is not currently FDA-approved to treat low libido in women. Experts say there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend this therapy for women.
In the journals: Walking lowers stroke risks in women
Walking for more than three-and-a-half hours per week is associated with a lower risk of stroke in women.
In the journals: Other options better than vitamin D for knee arthritis
Vitamin D supplements do not appear to be effective for reducing pain and slowing the progression of knee osteoarthritis.
In the journals: Vision loss keeps older women at home
People with vision loss, particularly women, are more likely to restrict their social activities out of a fear of falling.
In the journals: Berries might lower heart risks
Eating strawberries, blueberries, and other berries three times a week might lower a woman's risk of a heart attack.
New ways to beat osteoarthritis pain
Researchers are looking for new approaches to treating osteoarthritis. These therapies go beyond damaged cartilage and include the osteoporosis drug strontium ranelate and stem cell therapy.
Ask the doctor: Will lifestyle changes help with systolic hypertension?
A healthy diet and exercise can help bring down systolic blood pressure (a high top blood pressure number).
Ask the doctor: Do I need hemorrhoid surgery?
Most hemorrhoids can be managed by increasing fiber and fluid intake and by using over-the-counter hemorrhoid products. Procedures to shrink or remove hemorrhoids are available if necessary.
Avoiding dangerous drug interactions
Many common drugs older adults take can have side effects or can interact with other medications. Women should tell their doctor about every drug they are taking and ask for instructions whenever they receive a new prescription.
What you can do about incontinence
Half of women suffering from urinary incontinence never seek treatment, but they should. There are many effective treatments for stress and urge incontinence, including Kegel exercises, medication, botulinum toxin A (Botox), and surgery.
Why the Mediterranean diet is so good for your heart
The Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and olive oil, reduces the risk for heart disease, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.
Research We're Watching: Tai chi prevents falls after a stroke
Tai chi can improve balance and help prevent falls after a stroke.
Research We're Watching: Calcium could harm women's hearts
Women who get more than 1,400 mg of calcium daily from diet and supplements are at increased risk for premature death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease.
Research We're Watching: Older women can wait two years for next mammogram
Having a mammogram every two years is less likely than annual screening to produce a false-positive result in older women. Additional data suggest having a mammogram every two years rather than every year may be a reasonable strategy for women over 50.
Research We're Watching: Mindfulness meditation for arthritis
A mindfulness meditation program may help reduce a stress-induced inflammatory response, which could improve symptoms of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Things you can do to prevent a stroke
Aging and a family history can increase the risk for a stroke, but women can lower it by managing factors that are under their control-such as diet, exercise, blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes.
Ask the doctor: Do I need to worry about floaters?
Floaters in the eye are usually harmless, caused by normal aging and shrinking of the vitreous-the fluid that fills the eyeball. Floaters that appear suddenly can lead to retinal detachment and may need to be treated.
Ask the doctor: How should I treat a torn meniscus?
Surgery called partial meniscectomy has been the traditional way to correct a torn meniscus in people with osteoarthritis. However, new research suggests people with this condition may be able to try physical therapy before resorting to surgery.
Natural ways to relieve constipation
Dietary changes, medications, and a lack of exercise often contribute to constipation in older women. Getting plenty of fiber and drinking four to six glasses of fluid each day are the best ways to prevent-and treat-constipation.
Better sleep-without pills
Prescription sleep aids can help women fall asleep, but they can also have side effects. To improve sleep, women can try lifestyle changes such as going to sleep at the same time every day and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol.
Getting your doctor to listen
Increasing time pressures have forced many doctors to resort to a practice of "cookbook medicine." In their new book, When Doctors Don't Listen, Drs. Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky teach patients how to be better advocates for their own health.
Research We're Watching: Radiation for breast cancer linked to heart problems
Women who receive radiation therapy for breast cancer are at greater risk for heart disease, especially if they have that therapy to the left breast, which is closest to the heart.
Research We're Watching: Could less housework equal weight gain?
Women are doing less housework today than they did in the 1960s. This reduction in household activity may be contributing to weight gain.
Research We're Watching: Hands-on treatment helps low back pain
Osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) is a safe, effective way to relieve low back pain. In a study of 455 people, the treatment relieved pain better than sham (fake) OMT or ultrasound therapy.
Research We're Watching: Aspirin may lower melanoma risk
Aspirin may lower women's risk for melanoma. The longer women take aspirin, the lower their risk appears to be. However, because aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, women need to use it with caution.
Are you experiencing normal memory loss-or dementia?
Many people experience memory slips from time to time as they get older. Looking at the pattern of memory blips can help distinguish normal age-related memory loss from more serious dementia.
Ask the doctor: Why is visceral fat a problem?
Visceral (abdominal) fat can increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Exercise and diet are effective ways to reduce visceral fat.
Ask the doctor: How safe are sunless tanners?
Sunless tanners are generally safer than tanning. Women who use sunless tanners should apply a sunscreen whenever they go out in sunlight.
Generic drugs versus brand names: Switching could save money
Generic drugs are designed to have the same quality and effectiveness as their brand-name counterparts. Yet many patients believe there is a difference.
How to break the sugar habit-and help your health in the process
Many Americans eat too much sugar, which contributes to obesity, heart disease, and an increased risk for death.
Chest pain? How you describe your symptoms matters
Angina-chest pain caused by a reduction in blood flow to part of the heart-is often diagnosed differently in men and women. This difference stems, in part, from the words women use to describe their chest symptoms.
Do you know the symptoms of women's cancers?
Many women don't know the symptoms of gynecologic cancers. Because there are no screening tests for most of these cancers, it's important for women to report symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain to their doctor.
Research We're Watching: High-fiber diet might reduce stroke risk
Increasing total dietary fiber by 7 grams a day-the amount contained in a bowl of whole-grain pasta, an apple, and a serving of tomatoes-can lower stroke risk by 7%, researchers have found.
Research We're Watching: High blood pressure linked to more Alzheimer's plaque deposits
People with the apolipoprotein E4 gene variant who also have high blood pressure tend to have a greater number of beta-amyloid plaques in their brain. Lowering blood pressure might help slow the development of Alzheimer's, researchers say.
Research We're Watching: Side effects don't have to stop statin users
Statin drugs can help bring down cholesterol levels, but they also can cause side effects. A study finds that many people who stop taking statin drugs because of side effects often can tolerate these drugs when they try taking them again.
Research We're Watching: Yoga and acupressure help control blood pressure in people with atrial fibrillation
Two alternative techniques-yoga and acupressure (a technique of using the fingers to apply pressure to specific points on the body)-can help lower blood pressure and heart rate in people with atrial fibrillation.
The right shoes: The key to better health
Certain shoes can inflict damage on the feet, from bunions and corns to hammertoes. The healthiest shoe styles have a wide toe box and low heel to support and protect the feet and prevent falls.
Ask the doctor: Can red yeast rice bring down cholesterol?
I am taking pravastatin for high cholesterol, but my numbers are still high. Should I try red yeast rice?
Ask the doctor: What can I do about painful sex?
Since I went through menopause, sex has become very painful. I no longer enjoy it. Are there any treatments I can try?
A heart condition may foreshadow dementia, even without a stroke
Obesity, diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure can compromise the health of your heart and your brain. Interventions such as dieting, exercising, and quitting smoking can improve the health of both organs.
Don't give up on losing weight and staying fit
The keys to weight loss after menopause are to make small changes to the diet-such as drinking fewer sodas and eating more fruits and vegetables-and getting more activity.
Vaccinations: Myth vs. reality
Many older adults fail to get the vaccines they need to protect themselves against diseases such as the flu, pneumonia, and shingles.
Varicose veins: Searching for less-invasive treatments
Women need no longer suffer pain and discomfort from varicose veins, thanks to new, less invasive treatments.
Research we're watching: Real-time digital mammograms more accurate than computed radiography
Computed radiography (CR), a type of mammogram that records breast images on a cassette and then transfers them to a computer, is not as effective at picking up breast cancer as digital direct radiography (DR), a study finds.
Research we're watching: Two osteoporosis drugs better than one
A combination of two osteoporosis drugs-denosumab (Prolia) and teriparatide (Forteo)-increases bone mineral density in women at risk for fractures better than either drug alone.
Research we're watching: Pelvic organ prolapse surgery less effective over time
The effectiveness of abdominal sacrocolpopexy surgery to correct pelvic organ prolapse declines over time. Adding urethropexy can reduce incontinence risk, but it doesn't affect the odds of treatment failure.
Research we're watching: New guidelines recommend CT screening for long-term smokers
New guidelines recommend low-dose CT screening for current and former smokers ages 55 to 74 who have smoked a total of 30 or more pack-years (one pack-year is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day for one year).
6 numbers you absolutely need to know
Knowing six numbers-your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference-can help you control risk factors for heart disease.
Ask the doctor: Can tai chi improve balance?
Tai chi can improve leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes-all of which can help you stay balanced and prevent a fall.
Ask the doctor: What can I do about fecal leakage?
Fecal incontinence-or leakage of stool-becomes more likely as we age. Try to avoid foods that can cause loose stools, such as spicy or fatty foods and diet foods or drinks. Eat smaller meals more often, and increase your fiber intake.
Pain relief: Taking NSAIDs safely
NSAIDs can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation from arthritis and other chronic aches and pains. However, you want to use the lowest dose for the shortest time.
Important nutrients you could be missing
Nutritional deficiencies become more common as women get older. Vitamins B12 and D, iron, and calcium are among the most common deficiencies with age. It's important for women to be checked for deficiencies and to take a supplement if needed.
Research we're watching: Irregular heartbeat linked to earlier mental decline
The irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation is linked to faster mental decline, even in people who have not had a stroke.
Research we're watching: COPD rates rise in women
Today, women are 37% more likely than men to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and they account for more than half of COPD deaths each year.
Research we're watching: New guidelines released for managing knee arthritis
Revised guidelines for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis recommend low-impact aerobic exercise and weight loss, as well as NSAIDs and acetaminophen for pain relief. Hyaluronic acid injections are no longer recommended.
Research we're watching: Lack of sleep harmful to women's hearts
Women with heart disease who don't sleep well have higher levels of inflammation markers, such as interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. Inflammation has been found to increase the risk for heart disease and heart attacks.
10 tips to prevent injuries when you exercise
To avoid injury during exercise, make sure your exercise routine is right for you. Warm up before each session and cool down afterward.
Ask the doctor: Do I need to take antibiotics for a urinary tract infection?
A three- to 10-day course of antibiotics is the standard treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI), although having a urine sample and culture can confirm the infection so women don't have to take antibiotics unnecessarily.
Ask the doctor: What should I do about persistent depression?
It is very important to address depression because of its negative effect on your health and well-being. Antidepressants and talk therapy are the first-line treatments. Talk to your doctor about getting medical help if you're feeling consistently down.
Breast cancer: When and how often to get screened
Guidelines on breast cancer screening differ, which has created confusion among women. Women should consider their risk factors and talk with their doctor to determine the right schedule for them.
How to monitor-and lower-your blood pressure at home
Monitoring blood pressure at home is easy and convenient, and it can help women with high blood pressure fine-tune their treatment plan.
Eating for good vision
Foods rich in certain nutrients can help preserve eye health. For people with intermediate or advanced age-related macular degeneration, specific supplements may slow the progression of the disease.
Research we're watching: Experts add second drug to breast cancer prevention regimen
New guidelines advise postmenopausal women at increased risk for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer to talk to their doctor about taking exemestane (Aromasin) as part of a preventive strategy.
Research we're watching: Exercise-but avoid burnout
In one study, women who exercised two days a week were just as fit as those who worked out six days a week, possibly because they had more energy to stay active on days when they weren't at the gym.
Research we're watching: Staying mentally active throughout life preserves brain health
Reading, writing, and staying mentally active at all stages of life can help slow the rate of memory decline with age.
Research we're watching: Higher BMI increases risk of gallstones
New research finds that having a high body mass index (BMI) can increase the risk of gallstone formation in women, independent of factors that may be associated with obesity.
What you need to ask before getting an imaging test
Before having any medical imaging test, such as a CT scan or x-ray, a woman should ask her doctor how the test will be used to guide her treatment and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
Ask the doctor: How can I protect against bone loss?
Bisphosphonate drugs are a good option for treating osteoporosis, but women should still be sure to do weight-bearing exercises and take calcium and vitamin D.
Ask the doctor: What's the best way to treat toenail fungus?
Thick, discolored nails may be signs of a fungal nail infection. These infections are often treated with oral antifungal drugs.
Omega-3-rich foods: Good for your heart
Research is finding that omega-3 fatty acids have real heart benefits. They help lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve blood vessel health. Experts recommend that people get their omega-3s by eating two servings of fatty fish a week.
How using computers can help keep your mind sharp
There is evidence that surfing the Internet and playing games on the computer might slow cognitive decline and improve memory. Interacting with others online can also help older adults stay connected and reduce loneliness.
Preventing the burn of heartburn
Overindulging during the holidays can lead to uncomfortable heartburn. One way to avoid the burn is to eat sensibly and avoid foods that can trigger heartburn, such as citrus fruits, garlic, tomatoes, and fried foods.
Research we're watching: Long-term use of some blood pressure medicines is linked to breast cancer risk
Taking calcium-channel blockers long-term to control high blood pressure may increase the risk of breast cancer. Other types of blood pressure drugs don't seem to have the same effect.
Research we're watching: Women may not be getting optimal stroke treatment
Women are less likely than men to receive clot-dissolving medicine for an ischemic stroke (caused by a blockage in an artery to the brain), likely because they are delayed in getting to the hospital for treatment.
Research we're watching: Back pain treatment doesn't follow recommendations
Many doctors overtreat their back pain patients. Instead of following current guidelines and recommending NSAIDs and physical therapy, they are prescribing narcotics and sending patients for imaging scans and more aggressive treatment.
Research we're watching: High blood sugar linked to mental decline
Having high blood sugar, even without diabetes, can increase the risk for dementia. The higher blood sugar rises, the more that risk goes up.
How to manage your medicines
Each time you get a new prescription, it's important to find out why your doctor is prescribing it. You should also talk to your doctor before changing or stopping any medicine.
Ask the doctor: Why do I always feel so cold?
Women tend to feel colder than men, because the blood vessels near the skin constrict faster to divert blood to necessary organs. Certain conditions-such as hypothyroidism or Raynaud's disease-can also contribute.
Ask the doctor: Can supplements prevent dementia?
No supplement or pill has been proven to protect against dementia. However, there is growing evidence that physical activity can slow cognitive decline.
Stress and your heart
The link between everyday stress and heart disease may result from stress-related behaviors-such as eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, and excess drinking. Meditation and other stress-relieving techniques can help.
Could you have prediabetes?
One out of every two adults over age 65 is at risk for diabetes. About half of them aren't aware of it. Women can take an A1C test to assess their blood sugar levels, and use diet and exercise to prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes.
Insoles for arthritic knees
A recent research review published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found shoe inserts do little-if anything-to relieve knee arthritis pain.
Best nondairy sources of calcium
Nondairy foods-like leafy green vegetables and fish-can provide calcium for people who are vegan, lactose-intolerant, or just not fond of dairy.
Research we're watching: New guidelines for treating vaginal atrophy
Almost half of postmenopausal women experience dryness and thinning of the vagina and vulva. The North American Menopause Society recommends vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, as well as vaginal or oral estrogen to treat symptoms.
Research we're watching: Stents work well in women
Stents used to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow are safe and effective in women. The newest-generation drug-coated stents seem to work best at preventing a heart attack or stroke.
Research we're watching: Short bouts of exercise are enough to manage weight
Exercising in 10-minute bursts can help people control their body mass index (BMI). However, the exercises need to be of high intensity-such as a brisk walk or climbing stairs.
Research we're watching: Statins lower heart attack risks in people without heart disease
Taking cholesterol-lowering statins can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people with no history of heart disease, although it doesn't seem to have an impact on their risk of death.
12 for 2012: Twelve tips for healthier eating
Rather than focus on individual nutrients, nutrition guidelines now encourage paying closer attention to the types and quantities of foods we eat.
Sex and the older woman
More women are remaining sexually active after menopause, but concern about sexually transmitted infections has not been a priority, leading to an increase in such infections.
In the journals: Yoga and stretching are equally effective for easing low back pain
People with low back pain who are willing to try exercise are likely to find some relief with either yoga or a stretching program.
Ask the doctor: What else can I do for Dupuytren's contracture?
I have Dupuytren's contracture in both hands. I've had "needle" surgery in one hand, and the fingers straightened. But they seem to want to contract again. What can I do?
Ask the doctor: What happens to the plastic beads injected during uterine artery embolization?
Ten years ago, I had uterine artery embolization to get rid of uterine fibroids. How long do the plastic particles they inject into the arteries stay in the body? Do they dissolve?
Ask the doctor: What can you tell me about uveitis?
I'm 64 and have been diagnosed with uveitis in my right eye. What causes it, and what is the best treatment for it?
Disordered eating in midlife and beyond
Disordered eating later in life may be caused by life changes such as divorce or grief over the loss of a loved one, an illness, or the stress of dealing with mounting medical issues.
What to do about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by the accumulation of fat inside liver cells. It is linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, but other factors may influence who develops the condition.
Healing yourself after injury, illness, or surgery
Dr. Julie Silver discusses her book You can Heal Yourself, which offers research-based advice on healing physically and emotionally after surgery or a serious medical issue.
In the journals: Experts update guidelines for treating essential tremor
The American Academy of Neurology has issued updated treatment guidelines for essential tremor, deeming some medications ineffective and suggesting surgical procedures for severe cases.
Ask the doctor: Can getting rid of varicose veins cause venous insufficiency?
I have varicose veins and would like to get rid of them. Could that lead to venous insufficiency?
What to do about restless legs syndrome
People with this disorder experience an uncontrollable urge to move their legs, typically around bedtime. Lifestyle changes can help, and there are also medications that can provide some relief.
Why behavior change is hard - and why you should keep trying
Adopting healthier lifestyle habits doesn't happen at once, but is a process that happens in stages. Setbacks along the way are normal, but they provide opportunities for growth and learning.
In the journals: Certain dietary patterns are associated with long-term brain health
Researchers using brain imaging to track nutrient biomarkers found an association between higher levels of certain vitamins and better performace on mental tests in older people.
In the journals: Radiation for breast cancer is linked to narrowing of the coronary arteries
A Swedish study adds to the evidence that radiation therapy for breast cancer can lead to heart problems, particularly for women with left-sided breast cancer.
Ask the doctor: How do you treat a Baker's cyst?
I have a Baker's cyst in my right knee. It has been drained twice and recurred. Are there any other treatments for it?
Bone mineral density testing: How often?
Research on bone mineral density testing suggests that older women with good bone density test scores may need less frequent testing.
Treating pelvic organ prolapse
The muscles and ligaments that support the pelvic organs can stretch and weaken with age, allowing intrusion into the vagina. The condition may be exacerbated by obesity, vaginal childbirth, or other factors.
Peripheral artery disease
Women who develop peripheral artery disease tend to do so a decade later than men, by which time other conditions may mask the symptoms, delaying diagnosis.
In the journals: An emergency contraceptive pill helps treat fibroids
A medication currently prescribed as an emergency contraceptive helps women with fibroids by shrinking them and reducing bleeding.
In the journals: Spinal manipulation and exercise trump drugs for neck pain
A comparison of treatments for neck pain found that both spinal manipulation and a program of exercises were more effective than medication.
In the journals: Severe sleep apnea is linked to cardiovascular death in women
Research suggests that women with sleep apnea are more likely to die from a cardiovascular cause, which aligns with similar research done on men.
Ask the doctor: What can I do about an anal fissure?
I had pain and some bleeding during bowel movements. My doctor says it's an anal fissure. What is that, and what's the best way to treat it?
Ask the doctor: Are generic drugs the same as brand-name drugs?
I recently switched from Prilosec to its generic form, omeprazole, and it doesn't relieve my heartburn as well as Prilosec. Aren't generics supposed to be the same as the brand-name drugs?
When sex gives more pain than pleasure
Dyspareunia is a common problem for many postmenopausal women.
Managing osteoarthritis of the knee
There are many treatments for knee osteoarthritis short of surgical replacement that can help reduce pain and improve function.
In the journals: Compression stockings after deep-vein thrombosis: Knee-highs or thigh-highs?
Compression stockings after deep-vein thrombosis: Knee-highs or thigh-highs?
Ask the doctor: Does mangosteen have any health benefits?
I've seen advertisements for mangosteen juice claiming it has lots of antioxidants and health benefits, including anticancer effects. Is there any truth to this?
Ask the doctor: Are sunless tanning products safe?
I like to look tanned, but I'm somewhat fair-skinned and can't be in the sun much. Are self-tanning lotions and sprays a good idea? Are they safe?
Ask the doctor: Why should I limit my dairy intake to one to two servings a day?
In the January issue, you recommended the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which includes only one to two servings of dairy a day. Don't we need more than that to get enough calcium?
Do you need mammograms?
Before you get your next mammogram, learn the pros and cons of this controversial screening test.
Ask the doctor: What causes tingling hands at night?
Dr. Robb-Nicholson discusses what causes tingling hands at night.
Ask the doctor: Which are the healthiest fats for baking?
Dr. Robb-Nicholson discusses what are the healthiest fats for baking.
Statins and women
When it comes to heart disease, men and women aren't created equal. What you need to know if you take these cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Could a silent stroke erode your memory?
Could you have a stroke and not realize it? Learn how these hard-to-detect strokes could put your memory at risk.
Find out why one pesky virus could ruin your summer vacation- -if you're not careful.
In the journals: Prolonging your life with seven healthy habits
Prolonging your life with seven healthy habits.
In the journals: Menopause group reassures women about hormone therapy
Menopause group reassures women about hormone therapy
In the journals: Goodbye to yearly pap smears for some women over 65
Goodbye to yearly pap smears for some women over 65.
In the journals: Botox can help with overactive bladder
Botox can help with overactive bladder.
8 secrets to a good night's sleep
Tired of feeling tired? Here are some simple tips to help you get to sleep.
Ask the doctor: What should I do about a kidney cyst?
What should I do about a kidney cyst?
Ask the doctor: Can I get a yeast infection after menopause?
Can I get a yeast infection after menopause?
What clinical studies can do for you
Studies can give you access to the latest treatments, but you need to know what questions to ask before you enroll.
I can't eat that!
Food intolerances make dairy and other foods hard to swallow.
Is your heart out of rhythm?
An ICD can be lifesaving, but it can have unique risks for women.
In the journals: Vitamin E no help for heart failure
Vitamin E no help for heart failure.
In the journals: Better habits could cut cancer deaths
Better habits could cut cancer deaths.
In the journals: Study highlights exercise for memory
Study highlights exercise for memory.
Boost your memory by eating right
Diet can help-or harm-brain health. Eating foods loaded with saturated fat boosts blood levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are bad for the heart and the brain. A Mediterranean-type diet, in contrast, can help preserve mem
Ask the doctor: How should I treat hyperthyroidism?
Treatment with radioactive iodine is one way to treat an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), but other medications can work, too.
Ask the doctor: Do I still need vaccines?
Older people still need immunizations, including vaccines against pneumonia; influenza; tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (every 10 years); and possibly shingles.
How to avoid joint surgery
Before have surgery to replace an aching joint with an artificial one, try extending the life of your own natural joints by losing weight, protecting your joints, trying medical treatment, and getting effective pain relief.
Revitalizing sun-damaged skin
It's never too late to protect your skin from the sun, and you may even be able to reverse any damage that's already been done. Techniques include anti-aging creams, laser resurfacing, chemical peels, photorejuvenation, and microdermabrasion.
Too much salt in your diet?
Nine out of 10 Americans consume too much salt each day. Much of it comes from surprising sources like breads and rolls, pizza, prepared sandwiches, and pasta dishes.
Update on osteoporosis treatment
New research highlighting possible long-term dangers of using a bisphosphonate to prevent or treat osteoporosis has people asking, "What do I do now?" How long to take a bisphosphonate depends on current bone density and osteoporosis risk.
In the journals: Calcium supplements could increase heart attack risks
Taking calcium supplements in an effort to strengthen bones may not be good for the heart. It's best to get calcium from dietary sources such as milk, yogurt, tofu, and spinach.
In the journals: Could a few daily cups of coffee help you live longer?
A new study suggests that coffee drinkers may live longer. Coffee drinking appeared to reduce deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, strokes, and diabetes.
What's the beef with meat?
Americans' love affair with red meat (which includes veal, beef, lamb, and pork) may be endangering their health. Diets high in red meat have been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and premature death.
Ask the doctor: Should I buy a blood pressure monitor?
If you have high blood pressure, it makes sense to buy a blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure at home. This gives a more accurate view of your blood pressure than intermittent office-based readings or the occasional check.
Ask the doctor: How can I deal with jet lag?
Jet lag is common when flying long distance across several time zones. For every time zone you cross, it takes about a day for your body to adjust. There is no proven solution for jet lag, but you may be able to minimize its effects.
Vitamin D and calcium supplements: Take them or leave them?
Conflicting recommendations and study results are sowing confusion about whether or not to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. While it's best to get all nutrients from food, the decision to take supplements should be individualized based on your diet
Surviving cancer-what happens next?
Almost 14 million cancer survivors-more than half of them women-are living in the United States today. Better odds of surviving cancer make planning for life after cancer almost as important as planning treatment for the disease.
Weight-loss drug review
The recent FDA approvals of new medications to treat obesity may make it seem like a cure is at hand. But there's no magic bullet for shedding excess weight-diet pills promote modest weight provided you're a good candidate for drug therapy and you use the
Making smart screening decisions: Colon cancer screening
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women. Several tests can find hidden colorectal cancer while it is still small and treatable.
In the journals: Unique stroke risks in women with atrial fibrillation
Women with atrial fibrillation, a common heart-rhythm problem, are at greater risk for a stroke than men, and may need to be treated more aggressively with medicine that protects against stroke by preventing the formation of blood clots.
In the journals: Still smoking? Study finds quitting has benefits at any age
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that it's never too late to improve your health by quitting smoking. Even smokers in their 80s reduce their risks when they kick the habit.
In the journals: Staying fit might lower your odds of getting breast cancer
Daily physical activity reduces a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. Women who work out between 10 and 19 hours a week have a breast cancer risk about 30% lower than that of inactive women.
In the journals: An apple a day-plus a walk-might contribute to a longer life
A new study that evaluated the combined effect of diet and exercise on longevity has a simple message for living longer: Eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise daily.
5 of the best exercises you'll ever do
Staying fit doesn't require an expensive gym membership or an overabundance of sweat. Five simple exercises-swimming, tai chi, strength training, walking, and Kegels-can keep weight under control, and improve strength, balance, and range of motion.
Ask the doctor: Can bladder training help with incontinence?
Bladder training can help women deal with incontinence. it involves learning to urinate on a schedule and doing pelvic muscle exercises.
Ask the doctor: Can a light box for SAD damage my eyes?
Light therapy can be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. protecting the eyes during treatment involves not staring at the light source and using fluorescent rather than incandescent light.
Depression: Early warning of dementia?
Older people who are depressed are more likely to develop dementia. Ignoring sadness or dismissing it as a normal side effect of aging could allow potentially treatable memory issues to progress unchecked.
When headaches won't go away
Women are three times more likely than men to get migraine headaches, in part because of the hormone estrogen. A number of different medications are available to prevent migraine and stop them when they first start.
Making smart screening decisions: Part 2: Breast cancer
Having an annual mammogram starting at age 40 can catch breast cancer early, when it's most treatable. Women who are comfortable doing breast self-exams should do them to look for changes in their breasts.
In the journals: Job stress? It could strain your heart
Too much on-the-job stress puts women at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Stressful jobs might contribute to heart problems by leading women into unhealthy behaviors like smoking, or by contributing to depression or high blood pressure.
In the journals: Hormone therapy: A new consensus
A joint statement by 15 medical organizations concluded that hormone therapy is safe as a treatment for hot flashes as long as women take it early in menopause and use it for the shortest time possible.
In the journals: Diary, home meals keys to weight loss
Skipping meals and eating in restaurants work against women who are trying to lose weight. Keeping a food journal can help because it helps focus attention on the foods a person is eating.
In the journals: Women need reading glasses for different reasons than men
One reason women need reading glasses sooner than men could have more to do with their preferred reading distance or arm length than with their focusing power.
Breakthrough: Robotic surgery
Robot-assisted surgery can provide greater magnification and improved dexterity for a surgeon, but outcomes may not be better than with traditional laparoscopic procedures, and costs for robotic surgery can be higher.
Ask the doctor: How can I treat dry eyes?
Dry eye becomes more common with age, and it can lead to vision changes. Eye drops can keep eyes moist, while avoiding irritants in the air can reduce the dry feeling. In some cases, surgery is needed to block the tear ducts.
Ask the doctor: What is causing my vaginal itching?
Lichen sclerosus is a skin condition that can affect the skin around the vulva and anus causing it to become thin, whitened and sometimes wrinkled. Although there is no cure for lichen sclerosus, it can be controlled with medication.
Fight fat to help your heart
Extra pounds are hard on the heart, but the fat located in the abdomen-called visceral fat-is particularly risky to heart health. Cutting portion sizes, eating less sugar and fat, and exercising are three of several effective ways to banish belly fat.
The challenges of living alone
Nearly 40% of older women live alone. This can foster a sense of independence but it can also raise health and safety risks. It's important for women who live alone to stay socially active and make home modifications to ensure their safety.
Making smart screening decisions: Part 3: Cardiac screening tests
Screening EKGs or other routine imaging tests are not recommended for women without heart disease risk factors. However, women who are at a higher risk for heart disease should visit a doctor to determine whether they need further testing.
In the journals: Incorporating balance into everyday life prevents falls
Incorporating balance and strength activities into daily routines-such as by standing on one leg while cooking dinner-may reduce the risk of falling.
In the journals: Lifestyle changes help keep weight off after menopause
Postmenopausal women who eat fewer desserts and fried foods, drink fewer sugary beverages, eat more fish, and eat at restaurants less often are better able to lose weight and keep it off.
In the journals: Drugs may not be best for mild high blood pressure
Women with mildly elevated blood pressure may want to try non-drug interventions for lowering blood pressure- -such as diet, exercise, and stress management- -before turning to medications.
In the journals: Meditation eases loneliness
Meditation may be an effective method for combatting loneliness, and at the same time reduce markers of inflammation, which might benefit the immune system.
Avoiding a pain in the neck
Nearly 21 million women have neck pain. The problem is often caused by arthritis and disk disease, and worsened by poor posture, low muscle strength, and stress. The best treatment for neck pain is a combination of exercise and ergonomic improvements.
Ask the doctor: What are breast calcifications?
Breast calcifications are common, affecting about 50% of women over age 50. Most calcifications are noncancerous and do not need treatment. If they are clustered in one breast, they may require a biopsy.
Ask the doctor: Can migraines lead to memory loss?
Some studies have linked migraine headaches to an increased risk of symptom-free or "silent" strokes, which can lead to memory loss and dementia. However, the Women's Health Study did not find a higher risk cognitive decline in women with migraines.
Can aspirin help fight cancer?
Aspirin, long used to treat pain, and more recently to prevent heart attack, may have a new job: preventing cancer.
Stopping repeated urinary tract infections
The drop in estrogen after menopause increases a woman's risk of urinary tract infections. Antibiotics can treat a UTI. To help prevent repeat infections, a woman should fully empty her bladder each time she uses the bathroom and drink plenty of water.
Treating many conditions-with just one pill
A polypill combines three, four, or more medicines into a single pill. It's an idea that could prevent many women from missing their important medications.
Making smart screening decisions: Part 4: Commercial screening tests
There is no evidence that commercial screening tests for conditions such as carotid artery disease, aortic abdominal aneurysm, peripheral artery disease, and chronic kidney disease are useful for women who aren't at high risk for them.
In the journals: No need for routine ovarian cancer screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has reaffirmed its 2004 recommendation that women at low risk not be routinely screened for ovarian cancer, because routine screening does not reduce ovarian cancer deaths.
In the journals: Pain-relieving creams ease arthritis aches
Some topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve osteoarthritis pain as well as oral medicines, with less risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. The best evidence is for diclofenac solution or gel.
In the journals: Fall prevention: What works?
Researchers have identified several effective fall prevention strategies, including home safety modifications, home-based exercise programs, tai chi, cataract surgery, changes to medication doses, and anti-slip shoes.
In the journals: No evidence black cohosh helps with hot flashes
Black cohosh does not appear effective for relieving hot flashes, and there is not enough evidence to confirm its safety or effectiveness for other menopausal symptoms, according to a new review.
11 for 2011: Eleven important ways to assess your health
A number of basic tests and screenings done at regular intervals will provide information that can help your health care providers keep you healthier.
Abnormal uterine bleeding in peri- and postmenopausal women
Many women experience abnormal uterine bleeding in the years leading to menopause, as hormone levels fluctuate. After menopause, any uterine bleeding is considered abnormal and should be investigated.
In the journals: Pelvic floor muscle training can help reverse pelvic organ prolapse
For women with pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor strengthening exercises may prevent the condition from worsening, and may even reverse the condition in some women.
Easing bedbug anxiety
With reports of bedbug infestations on the rise, it's important to know about the creatures and steps you can take to keep them away.
Ask the doctor: What can you tell me about surgery for vertebral fractures?
I have osteoporosis and a recent spine fracture. I hear there's a minor surgical procedure that can fix the fracture. Can you tell me anything about it?
Job strain and heart disease risk in women
Three separate studies from the United States, Denmark, and China found evidence that job stress contributes to higher risk of heart disease in women.
Strange bedfellows: Polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis
Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder of the joints and connective tissues. Temporal arteritis is an inflammation of large blood vessels, such as in the head. These conditions often occur together, though the reasons for this are unknown.
Diverticular disease prevention and treatment
By age 60, about 40% of people have diverticular disease, a condition characterized by protruding pouches on the colon. It's thought that a low-fiber diet, obesity, and lack of exercise contribute to the disease.
What to do about dry skin in winter
Lack of moisture in the air during the winter months tends to dry out skin. Dry skin is also a common adjunct to aging. Keeping your skin properly moisturized can help prevent conditions like eczema.
In the news: Report sets new dietary intake levels for vitamin D and calcium
An Institute of Medicine panel evaluating more than a decade of research concluded that the evidence for vitamin D's contribution to bone health is clear, and set its recommended daily intake levels on this basis.
Ask the doctor: Does folic acid improve immunity?
What do you know about taking extra folic acid to boost the immune system?
Ask the doctor: How should I remove eye makeup if I have blepharitis?
In your article about blepharitis, you didn't say anything about the best way to remove eye makeup. Are oil-based products bad for this condition?
Hormone therapy: The next chapter
In the span of ten years, the attitude within the medical community regarding hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women has shifted from optimism about its benefits to caution about its risks.
Prolonged illness and grieving
A new book examines how patterns of grieving are changing as people and families endure terminal illnesses for longer periods of time.
What to do about gallstones
Women under 40 are at much greater risk of developing gallstones than men, due to the actions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
In the journals: Heart failure risk is lower in women who regularly eat modest amounts of chocolate
An observational study of 31,000 older women in Sweden found that those who ate one to two servings a week of chocolate had a lower risk of heart failure.
Ask the doctor: How do I use a cane?
I recently had a right hip replacement and my doctor says I'm now ready to use a cane. Do you have any recommendations about the best way to use it?
FDA limits prescription acetaminophen
The danger of liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen has led the FDA to require prescription drug manufacturers to limit the amount of the pain reliever in their products.
Keeping up with your vaccinations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revises its immunization guidelines every year, and there are some changes for 2011, in particular ones that apply to people at middle age or older.
Minimally invasive treatments for bothersome leg veins
The common treatment for varicose veins used to be surgery, but it has largely been replaced by less invasive procedures like injections or laser therapy.
In the journals: Mindfulness meditation practice changes the brain
A small study of people who practiced regular mindfulness meditation found changes in several areas of their brains.
In the journals: Timing of hormone therapy influences breast cancer risk
Researchers in the United Kingdom surveyed more than a million women about their use of hormone therapy, and found that the timing of hormone use after menopause affected their risk of breast cancer.
Ask the doctor: Do I need an HPV test?
I'm 50 years old and have never had an HPV test. Do I need one as part of my health screening?
Ask the doctor: What causes a craving for ice?
I recently developed a craving to chew on several ice cubes a day. What causes this? Is it unhealthy?
When patients suddenly become confused
Many people, especially those over 65, experience delirium during illness or hospitalization. In its more common form a person is likely to act withdrawn or appear drowsy, making diagnosis more difficult.
Food allergies and food intolerances
Incidence of food allergy and food intolerance is increasing, though they are distinct conditions. Food allergies typically begin in infancy, and can be life-threatening if not outgrown. Food intolerance can cause discomfort but is generally less serious.
In the journals: Culturally appropriate storytelling may help control blood pressure in African Americans
People with uncontrolled high blood pressure who viewed DVDs of others from a similar cultural background talking about living with hypertension showed a reduction in blood pressure after six to nine months.
In the journals: A device to prevent heart failure is twice as effective in women
Women who received an implantable device that helps the heart maintain its rhythm had a much larger reduction in serious cardiac events, and greater improvement in cardiac function, than the men in the study.
Ask the doctor: Is hair straightening safe?
I had my hair straightened six months ago. Is there any danger in getting these treatments twice a year? I hear they may contain formalin or formaldehyde.
Soy may be okay for breast cancer survivors
Research now suggests that breast cancer survivors can eat soy foods in moderation.
Conditions: When sweating is too much
Excessive sweating is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but the condition can be managed with products such as prescription-strength antiperspirants, Botox injections, or treatments like iontophoresis.
What to do about bunions
A bunion is a deformity of the foot that causes the big toe to turn inward toward the other toes. This can result in damage to the other toes, calluses, and trouble walking.
In the journals: Major depression more likely during perimenopause than during premenopause
In a study, approximately one-third of women in perimenopause had at least one episode of major depression.
Ask the doctor: How should I be screened for cardiovascular disease?
I have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Although I don't have any risk factors, I'm concerned about how my cardiologist is screening me, because women can have small-vessel disease and not necessarily arterial disease. How should I be screened?
Ask the doctor: What are the differences between soluble and insoluble fiber?
I enjoyed your article on diverticular disease and the fiber content of various foods. However, could you make some distinctions between soluble and insoluble fiber? Some fiber makes me feel very bloated.
New Alzheimer's guidelines define early stages of the disease
New guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease are intended to support the emerging theory that the disease is present in the body long before it manifests in diminished cognitive capacity.
Experts urge intensive lifestyle measures for lowering triglycerides
The American Heart Association is recommending that people with high triglyceride readings undertake an intensive program of diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Are there limits to laser refractive surgery after midlife?
Freedom from corrective lenses makes laser eye surgery seem attractive, but having the procedure may affect the treatment of eye conditions that can arise in midlife and later.
In the journals: Cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise therapy help ease chronic fatigue symptoms
Researchers studying chronic fatigue syndrome found that adding either cognitive behavioral therapy or a specially formulated exercise program to medical care achieved better results than an adaptive program that conserves energy.
Ask the doctor: Is thermography a good screening tool for breast cancer?
When you talk about breast cancer screening, why don't you mention thermography? I've been using it for several years instead of mammography, which uses radiation.
Ask the doctor: Do statins cause hair loss?
My hair's been thinning. Could it be due to simvastatin, which I started taking several months ago?
Psychotherapy at midlife
The challenges of midlife may prompt some women to conside psychotherapy.
Diagnosing and treating interstitial cystitis
Interstitial cystitis is a painful, chronic bladder condition. There are several theories regarding its origin, but the exact cause is not known.
In the journals: Another drug prevents breast cancer in postmenopausal women
A drug already in use for breast cancer treatment may have the potential to prevent the disease in some women.
In the journals: Fibroid embolization and surgery have similar five-year outcomes
A comparison of two treatments for fibroids has found that long-term results are about the same for both methods.
Ask the doctor: What can I do about xanthelasma on my eyelids?
I'm 70 and in good health. My cholesterol levels are normal. Lately, I've started to get little yellow deposits on my eyelids, which I'm told are xanthelasma. What causes these, and how can I get rid of them?
Bioidentical hormones: Help or hype?
Bioidentical hormones are promoted as being safer than FDA-approved hormones, but their production is not regulated and their claims of effectiveness have not yet been substantiated by long-term clinical trials.
Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears and what to do about it
Yhough ringing or other noise in the ears is bothersome, it is rarely indicative of a more serious health issue. There are ways to manage the condition or minimize its impact.
In the journals: Napping boosts sleep and cognitive function in healthy older adults
A study of older adults who took daytime naps found that their total sleep time increased without causing daytime drowsiness.
In the journals: Large trial finds annual screening doesn't reduce deaths from ovarian cancer
In a trial, annual screening for ovarian cancer did not result in fewer cases or fewer deaths.
Ask the doctor: Does creatine improve strength in postmenopausal women?
Could you discuss the benefits of creatine supplements for older, postmenopausal women? Are there any drawbacks?
The breast density-breast cancer connection
Women with dense breast tissue may be at higher risk for more aggressive types of breast cancer.
How to get rid of warts
Warts are an unsightly nuisance that can take a year or more to go away on their own. Several effective, noninvasive treatments are available.
Update on vibration therapy for bone health
Low-intensity vibration therapy attempts to strengthen muscle and bone through gentle stimulation, which could help postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporosis.
In the journals: Novel foot-health program reduces falls in older people
A program aimed at improving the foot health of older people through examinations, exercises, advice, and orthotic shoe inserts may help prevent falls.
In the journals: Regular exercise may ward off cognitive decline in women with vascular disease
Vascular disease increases the risk of age-related cognitive decline, but women who already have vascular problems can still gain cognitive benefits from daily exercise.
Ask the doctor: How does hot pepper cream work to relieve pain?
I have pain from osteoarthritis in both knees. I'm curious about the cream made from a substance in hot peppers. How does it relieve pain?
Ask the doctor: Do I need a Pap test at age 75?
I'm 75 years old and healthy. My doctor is still recommending annual Pap tests for me. I have no history of any problems in this area and have had normal Pap tests for years. Is this necessary at my age?
Screening after age 75
The question of whether or not to have certain screening tests after age 75 varies depending on a woman's overall health, risk factors, and treatment preferences.
When keeping stuff gets out of hand
Compulsive hoarders accumulate unneeded items beyond reason. While hoarding is sometimes a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, most hoarders do not exhibit the characteristics of OCD.
In the journals: Even a little exercise is good for the heart - especially a woman's
More physical activity is clearly better for health, but even small amounts of daily exercise can lower the risk of heart disease.
In the journals: Sleep apnea increases dementia risk in older women
Older women with sleep apnea may be at higher risk of developing cognitive problems and dementia.
In the journals: Cholesterol-lowering foods outdo low-saturated-fat diet
Adding certain cholesterol-lowering foods to a low-fat diet may be more effective at lowering long-range heart disease risk.
Ask the doctor: What do you know about Prolia and Reclast for osteoporosis?
I'm looking for information on Prolia and Reclast as alternatives to Boniva.
Depression and cardiovascular risk in women
There is growing evidence of a link between depression and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The overlooked hazards of holiday eating
Holiday meals present an increased risk for food-borne illnesses, but a few simple precautions can prevent illness.
Staying active despite osteoporosis
People with osteoporosis may be reluctant to exercise, but it's important to prevent bones from weakening further. Consult a health-care provider to find the right exercises for your condition.
In the journals: Vaginal estrogen ring helps relieve overactive bladder
Postmenopausal women with overactive bladder may benefit from a low-dose vaginal estrogen ring.
In the journals: Study elucidates health risks for DES daughters
The health risks of women whose mothers were given the drug DES have been documented in a follow-up study.
Ask the doctor: Should I have my magnesium level checked?
Should I have my magnesium level checked regularly to make sure I'm getting enough for my bones?
Ask the doctor: Does vaginal estrogen have the same risks as oral or patch estrogen?
Do vaginal estrogens that are used for vaginal dryness have the same risks as estrogens taken orally or by skin patch?
10 for 2010: 10 things you should know about heart disease
Women's heart disease risk is different from men's, due to differences in anatomy and the protective effect of estrogen. This article summarizes what women need to know about heart disease and prevention.
In the journals: Cognitive behavioral therapy more effective than light therapy for relieving seasonal depression
A small study found that cognitive behavioral therapy was a more effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder than light therapy.
What to do about Bell's palsy
Bell's palsy is an inflammation of the facial nerve, believed to be caused by a viral infection, that results in paralysis of one side of the face. It can take several weeks to return to normal, and treatment is typically a corticosteroid medication.
Time for tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening procedures can be done at a dentist's office, or there are many over-the-counter products that can be used at home, but regardless of the method, the result is temporary.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about chronic leukorrhea?
I'm a healthy 62-year-old and have developed a vaginal discharge and discomfort. Tests for vaginal infections have been negative. Nothing helps. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this problem, which my gynecologist calls "chronic leukorrhea."
By the way, doctor: Is it safe to take high doses of vitamin D?
On the basis of a blood test, my doctor wants me to take high doses of vitamin D for three months. I hear there are wide variations among laboratories performing these tests. Should I trust my first results, or take the test again? What are the risks?
By the way, doctor: Does carbonated water harm bones?
I've heard that club soda, seltzer water, and sparkling mineral waters rob the bones of calcium. Is this true?
Preserving and improving memory as we age
As people age, it is normal to have concerns about maintaining good memory function. Practicing good general health habits and keeping the mind active can help preserve and protect memory.
A doctor talks about: Screening mammography
The editor in chief of Harvard Women's Health Watch discusses the recommended changes in breast cancer screening guidelines and suggests that women should discuss their risk level with their doctors and weigh the benefits against the potential harms.
Essential tremor and how to manage it
Essential tremor is a condition that causes involuntary movement of the hands, and sometimes the head. It can be managed with certain medications and lifestyle adjustments.
In the journals: Cocoa reduces inflammation associated with heart disease
A study from Spain found that daily consumption of unsweetened cocoa powder led to a reduction in inflammatory molecules linked to heart disease.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about vulvodynia?
I've had pain and burning near the entrance to my vagina for a long time. My doctor says it's probably vulvodynia. What can you tell me about this condition? How is it treated?
Calcium beyond the bones
Though calcium is essential for bones and muscles, it can accumulate in the body in unwanted places. There is concern that calcium intake via food or supplements may be to blame for these buildups, but it is generally unwarranted.
Managing postmenopausal vaginal atrophy
After menopause, many women experience vaginal dryness and discomfort. There are a variety of products available to treat this condition, including vaginal moisturizers and estrogen medications.
In the journals: Some antidepressants interfere with tamoxifen more than others
Women who take tamoxifen to prevent a recurrence or first occurrence of breast cancer should avoid certain antidepressants that interfere with tamoxifen's action in the body.
Update: Thighbone fractures in women taking bisphosphonate drugs
A few women taking a bisphosphonate medication for osteoporosis for several years experienced unusual thighbone fractures, but a large Danish study did not find sufficient evidence to support a connection.
By the way, doctor: What's the right amount of vitamin C for me?
I'm 79 years old and have been taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C a day for years. I'm now uneasy about taking this amount and plan to cut back to 1,000 mg daily. Is this the right dose? Will my body be startled by the abrupt change?
Progress report on ovarian cancer screening
Ovarian cancer has a high survival rate if detected early, but early detection is difficult due to the absence of precancerous lesions, the lack of a reliable biomarker, and the uncertainty of results of transvaginal ultrasound screening.
Tendon trouble in the hands: de Quervain's tenosynovitis and trigger finger
Painful conditions like de Quervain's tenosynovitis, inflammation of the tendons that move the thumb, and stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger finger, when a digit becomes locked, can develop due to overuse or repetitive movement.
In the journals: New analysis supports expanded use of statins in women
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of a statin in people with normal cholesterol levels, in part because of evidence that taking the drug can reduce vascular inflammation.
In the journals: More studies find that regular exercise helps protect aging brains
Several studies add to the growing evidence that regular exercise offers a measure of protection to the aging mind, along with the benefits of keeping the body physically healthy and fit.
In the journals: Yoga may help improve women's sexual function
Researchers in India found that women who participated in a daily yoga program experienced improvement in several aspects of sexual function.
By the way, doctor: Does laser treatment work for toenail fungus?
I've tried a lot of things for a fungal infection in one of my toenails, but it just won't go away. What do you know about a new treatment that uses laser?
Advances in breast imaging
Mammography has been an essential tool in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer for decades. New imaging technologies such as MRI and ultrasound are augmenting diagnosis.
Easing aching kneecaps
Patellofemoral (kneecap) pain can be caused by stress from overuse, tendinitis, misalignment, arthritis, or injury. Strengthening the surrounding muscles, especially the quadriceps, is the best way to ease or prevent kneecap pain.
In the journals: Study confirms link between certain diabetes drugs and fractures
Research has confirmed concerns that a certain class of diabetes drugs increases the risk of fractures in women, especially those over 65.
By the way, doctor: What are the health risks for DES daughters and their children?
My mother took DES when she was pregnant with me. I'm now 69, my daughter is 41, and we've both had gynecological problems. What particular risks do we have because of our DES exposure, and what can we do about them?
By the way, doctor: What do you know about the HCG diet?
I've been trying to lose weight for a long time and nothing seems to work. What do you know about the HCG diet?
By the way, doctor: What can I do about twitching eyelids?
From time to time, my eyelids twitch. What causes this, and is there anything I can do about it?
Getting help through couples therapy
Changes in life circumstances may cause tensions in a relationship, even between people who have been together for a long time. A couples therapist can help partners or spouses deal with such problems and issues.
Bringing psoriasis under control
The cause of the skin condition psoriasis is not known, but may be a combination of heredity and immune system response. It is not curable, but can often be managed with various treatment methods.
In the journals: Exercise limits weight gain in normal-weight but not heavier women
Physical activity can help prevent weight gain in women who are not overweight, but for those who are already overweight or obese, exercise alone is not enough to prevent weight gain.
Urine color and odor changes
The color and smell of a person's urine can be affected by foods, vitamins, or medications, but there are also medical conditions that can cause changes in urine.
By the way, doctor: Is krill oil better for the heart than fish oil?
A relative in Australia was told to take krill oil capsules, which are advertised as better for heart health than fish oil. What's your opinion?
By the way, doctor: Does platelet-rich plasma therapy work for tennis elbow?
You wrote about platelet-rich plasma therapy for chronic tendon problems. Has there been any news? I ask because I'm thinking about it for my tennis elbow.
Too early to get up, too late to get back to sleep
Sleep-maintenance insomnia, the inability to remain asleep during the night, may be caused by health problems, depression, or stress. Maintaining good sleep habits and practicing relaxation techniques may lead to a better night's sleep.
Progress in treating multiple myeloma
The cause of the blood disease multiple myeloma is unknown, but advances in treatment, including new medications and stem-cell transplants, are giving patients longer periods of remission.
In the journals: Study finds no link between bone drugs and unusual thigh fractures
After recent concerns about the possibility that bisphosphonate drugs taken for osteoporisis could cause thigh fractures, an analysis of three studies found incidence of this injury to be extremely rare.
In the journals: Unequal leg length may be a risk for osteoarthritis of the knee
Researchers found an association between unequal leg length and a higher likelihood of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
Update: Home phototherapy for psoriasis is cost-effective
A Dutch study found that in-home phototherapy treatment for psoriasis was as effective as receiving the treatment in a hospital, and cost about the same.
By the way, doctor: What can I do to prevent cataracts?
Is it true that cataracts are made of calcium? Can I do anything to avoid getting a cataract? What about diet?
Taking aim at belly fat
Though the visceral fat that lies behind the abdominal wall makes up only a small percentage of the body's fat, a growing body of research indicates that it is linked to a number of diseases and conditions.
Living wills and health care proxies
Specifying a health care proxy or preparing a living will, or both, can help ensure that your wishes regarding medical treatment are followed in the event you are unable to express them yourself.
In the journals: Studies find ways to reduce falls in older multifocal lens wearers
People who need multifocal eyeglasses are at higher risk of falling. Some of this risk may be lowered by being more selective about when to use multifocal lenses.
In the journals: More happiness, less worry after age 50, study finds
A survey of more than 300,000 Americans finds that after age 50, people feel happier and worry less.
By the way, doctor: Should I get the shingles vaccine?
I'm 79 and had chickenpox as a child. Should I get the shingles vaccine? What are the risks?
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits
Several companies are offering genetic testing kits for sale to the public, but they are expensive and may not offer any useful information beyond what people can already learn from their own doctors.
Midurethral sling surgery for stress incontinence
Women who experience urinary stress incontinence may want to consider midurethral sling surgery, a minimally invasive procedure in which a mesh support is inserted to relieve pressure on the urethra.
In the journals: The antidepressant citalopram cuts hot flash severity and frequency
Women who take an antidepressant to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes have another option in citalopram, and it does not block the effectiveness of tamoxifen like some other antidepressants do.
In the journals: Indoor tanning is strongly linked to melanoma risk
Researchers found that people who used indoor tanning equipment had a much higher likelihood of developing melanoma.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about blepharitis?
I suffer from blepharitis and have tried many medications, but the condition always returns. How can I cure it?
What's new in early breast cancer treatment?
Studies of breast cancer survivors have provided information that may lead to changes in the practice of lymph node removal and the use of radiation.
Workout for aching hands
Exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles and joints of the hands can help ease pain and prevent injury.
A doctor talks about: Radiation risk from medical imaging
Given the huge increase in the use of CT scans, concern about radiation exposure is warranted. Patients should try to keep track of their cumulative radiation exposure, and only have tests when necessary.
In the journals: Link between calcium supplements and heart attack risk unclear
Research regarding a link between calcium supplements and increased risk of a heart attack is contradictory, but getting most of the body's daily calcium requirement from food is preferable.
In the journals: Sitting can shorten your life
While it's well known that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, some newer research suggests that people who spend more time sitting are more likely to die.
By the way, doctor: Is it okay to drink grapefruit juice, as long as I don't take my statin at the same time?
I've been advised not to take my statin drug, simvastatin, with grapefruit juice. But is it safe to take the medication at night and then drink grapefruit juice in the morning?
Going off antidepressants
People who have been taking antidepressants for some time may wish to stop taking them due to unpleasant side effects. This can be accomplished, but it is best to taper the dosage slowly and be aware of the potential for discontinuation symptoms.
How to release a frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder is caused by an injury or inflammation, which limits movement and causes the tissue around the joint to thicken and contract. Physical therapy will aim to restore flexibility to the joint capsule, then to strengthen it.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken-heart syndrome)
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also called broken-heart syndrome, is a weakening of the left ventricle that is usually the result of severe stress. Its symptoms resemble those of a heart attack, and treatment is usually the same as that for heart failure.
In the journals: Early palliative care extends life in lung cancer study
A study of lung cancer patients found that those who received early palliative care along with standard medical care lived longer and felt their quality of life was better than those receiving only standard medical care.
By the way, doctor: How much protein should I eat?
How much protein do I need every day? Does it matter what kind I eat?
The health benefits of strong relationships
Strong connections and regular social interaction with friends and family members helps alleviate stress and enhance longevity.
How to put your smartphone "on call"
Health and fitness apps for smartphones help users lose weight, track their exercise goals, find information about personal health concerns, and receive updates about public health issues.
In the journals: Grip strength and other physical measures predict lifespan
Older people who are able to perform better on measures of physical strength such as grip strength and walking speed are likely to live longer than those whose performance was poorer.
In the news: FDA approves the first oral drug for reducing multiple sclerosis relapses
The FDA has approved the first oral medication for treating relapses of multiple sclerosis.
What to make of the new warning on bisphosphonates
There is growing evidence that long-term use of bisphosphonate drugs, commonly prescribed for osteoporosis, can increase the risk of fractures of the thighbone.
By the way, doctor: How much aspirin should I take to reduce my risk for colon cancer?
I keep hearing that aspirin can help prevent colon cancer, but I have no idea how much I should take. Can you help? I've had adenomatous polyps in the past.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about chilblains?
I've been diagnosed as having chilblains in the fingers on both hands. What causes chilblains? Is there a cure?
Nine for 2009: Nine ways to healthier eating, Mediterranean style
Over decades of study, evidence shows that following a Mediterranean diet can help protect against heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Exercise as medicine
Even as people become more sedentary, evidence continues to accumulate showing that regular exercise is crucial to staying healthy. Getting started on a regular routine is often the most difficult step.
In the journals: Some side effects of breast cancer treatment may be a good sign
Women who experienced a combination of certain side effects while undergoing breast cancer treatment were less likely to see a recurrence of the disease.
By the way, doctor: How often should I have a colonoscopy?
How often should a healthy 55-year-old woman have a colonoscopy? Do the benefits outweigh the risk of complications, such as bowel perforation?
Should women with normal cholesterol be taking a statin?
The results of the JUPITER trial suggested that people with normal cholesterol should take a statin, but questions remain about long-term effectiveness. One's level of cardiovascular risk should be the primary factor in deciding whether to take a statin.
In brief: Hypnosis helps reduce hot flashes in breast cancer survivors
Breast cancer survivors suffering from hot flashes who underwent hypnosis therapy for a study experienced a significant decrease in the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes.
In the journals: Research finds that many older people can't get up from a fall
As people get older, they are at greater risk of falling, and it also becomes more difficult for them to get up after a fall, which may complicate injuries.
Foot conditions: Recognizing and treating Morton's neuroma
Morton's neuroma is a painful thickening of a nerve in the foot typically caused by tight, high-heeled shoes. Conservative treatment (low, roomy shoes, pain relievers, ice) is recommended before surgery is considered.
Prevention: Have your vaccinations had a check-up lately?
Although most people receive vaccinations in childhood, over time some vaccines lose their potency, new ones are introduced, and foreign travel may require certain vaccinations, depending on the destination.
By the way, doctor: Can I have endometriosis even after a hysterectomy?
I had a hysterectomy a year ago. Six months ago, I started having severe pelvic pain a few days before I would have had a period. Is it possible to experience symptoms of endometriosis after a hysterectomy? I also wonder if I might have pelvic adhesions.
What to do about sinusitis
Sinusitis occurs when blocked sinuses cannot drain and the backed-up mucus gets infected. The simplest and often most effective treatment is daily nasal irrigation. It can also help to drink a lot of water, inhale steam, and sleep with the head elevated.
Conditions: Cold fingers, cold toes? Could be Raynaud's
In Raynaud's phenomenon, even a slight decrease in temperature can cause a pronounced loss of blood flow to the hands. It can often be treated by protecting against exposure to cold, avoiding medications that constrict blood vessels, and exercising.
In the journals: Experts revise guidelines for irritable bowel syndrome
A panel of gastroenterology experts has revised the guidelines for irritable bowel syndrome, simplifying the definition of the disorder and the tests typically required for a diagnosis.
In the journals: Exercise, especially treadmill, eases peripheral artery trouble
Researchers studying people with peripheral artery disease found that an exercise program focused on treadmill walking reduced leg pain in those who suffered from it, and improved overall blood flow and artery function as well.
By the way, doctor: I have a joint replacement - should I take antibiotics before procedures?
Do I need to take antibiotics before dental cleanings and other procedures to prevent infection in my hip prosthesis?
By the way, doctor: Why is it unhealthy to have high triglycerides?
I have healthy cholesterol levels, but a high triglyceride level. What are triglycerides, and how dangerous is it to have high levels?
Mindfulness in a hectic world
Practicing mindfulness can help you learn to focus your attention and energy and reduce distractions, and can lead to reduced stress and improved health.
So you have primary hyperparathyroidism
In primary hyperparathyroidism, one or more of the parathyroid glands produces too much of a hormone that regulates blood calcium levels. If the imbalance becomes serious enough, it can lead to bone or kidney disease and require removal of the gland.
Alzheimer's caregiving: Day-to-day challenges
Beyond the broader issues of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, many caregivers find daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating challenging. Keeping things simple and eliminating unnecessary choices may help prevent confusion.
In the journals: Heart experts recognize the benefits of daily omega-6s
The American Heart Association examined a number of studies involving omega-6 fatty acids and concluded that earlier concerns about their role in inflammation were unwarranted, and that omega-6s are beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease.
In the journals: Weight loss reduces urinary incontinence in heavy women
A study of overweight women who committed to a six-month program of diet and exercise found that, in addition to weight loss, nearly half of them experienced a decrease in episodes of urinary incontinence.
In the journals: Alcohol can increase the risk of heart rhythm problems in middle-aged women
A study found that middle-aged women who had more than two drinks per day had a slightly higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
By the way, doctor: What causes Beau's lines?
You wrote about weak, brittle fingernails with longitudinal ridges. I have strong nails with horizontal ridges. What causes this, and what can I do about it?
By the way, doctor: Is vaginal estrogen safe for breast cancer survivors?
I'm 78. I had breast cancer nine years ago and have been taking Arimidex for six years. I have pain and some bleeding after intercourse, despite using Astroglide. My gynecologist prescribed vaginal estrogen cream. Is that safe for me?
Experts recommend low-dose aspirin to prevent stroke in women
A number of studies support the advice that women ages 55 to 79 should take a low-dose aspirin daily to reduce their risk of stroke. Aspirin does increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, so this should be factored into the decision.
The health benefits of tai chi
Tai chi is gentle and not strenuous, but it has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength, flexibility, and balance, and it can be practiced by people in nearly any state of health or physical condition.
Foot health: What to do about an ingrown toenail
Most people can treat an occasional ingrown toenail by soaking it in warm water and applying antibiotic ointment, but if the problem occurs frequently, part of the toenail may need to be removed.
In the journals: High resting heart rate predicts heart risk in women at midlife
A study based on data from the Women's Health Initiative suggests that a high resting heart rate is an indicator of risk of heart attack in middle-aged women.
In the journals: B vitamins may protect against macular degeneration
Taking a daily supplement of B vitamins could reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.
In the journals: Exercise eases nighttime leg twitches
People who suffer from periodic leg movement disorder, which disrupts sleep, may find that intense exercise during the day results in fewer leg movements during sleep and improved sleep quality.
By the way, doctor: Do I need CTX testing during a Fosamax "holiday"?
I'm 69 and have been taking Fosamax for 10 years. My doctor has approved a "drug holiday," provided we use a CTX test to monitor my bones. Can you explain?
Treating female pattern hair loss
Hair loss is a surprisingly common problem for women, particularly after menopause. This condition is typically treated with a medication such as minoxidil, though other options are available, including hair transplant surgery.
Recognizing and avoiding tick-borne illness
Tick-borne illnesses, once rare, are becoming more common. Insect repellent and treated clothing can help protect you, but if you do find a tick on your skin, it is very important to seek treatment as quickly as possible.
In the journals: Scientists discover how shift work may threaten health
People who work night shifts experience a misalignment in their circadian rhythms that can result in higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
In the journals: Triple-negative breast cancer rate is triply high in black women
Researchers found that a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer is three times as likely to occur in black women as in white women.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about strep B vaginitis?
I'm 61 and recently began to have a vaginal discharge. It's not itchy, but sexual intercourse is painful. My doctor diagnosed it as strep B vaginitis and prescribed amoxicillin, which helped. But the discharge returned within a week. What do you recommend?
Getting your vitamins and minerals through diet
With the effectiveness of multivitamins in question, it is possible to get the required amounts of vitamins and minerals through diet alone, even for those watching calories, by focusing on nutrient-dense foods.
Left behind after suicide
Those left behind after the suicide of a family member or friend struggle with a particularly difficult grief. Support groups, individual counseling, and online assistance may make the process easier to handle.
In the journals: Routine ovary removal during hysterectomy ill-advised for most women
Women who have their ovaries removed during hysterectomy procedures may be at greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer, or other illnesses as they age.
In the journals: Average duration of hot flashes may be longer than previously thought
A study of menopausal women found that they experienced hot flashes for an average of more than five years, much longer than had been previously thought.
By the way, doctor: Is taking calcium a problem if you have pseudogout?
I've been diagnosed with pseudogout, which I understand is caused by a buildup of calcium crystals in the joints. Should I be concerned about taking a calcium supplement?
By the way, doctor: What can you tell me about peppermint oil?
What are the pros and cons of taking peppermint oil?
Staying attuned to blood pressure
Blood pressure tends to increase with age as arteries stiffen. From midlife onward, the focus should be on the systolic number, which tends to rise more sharply in women after menopause than in men of similar age.
Exercise to go
This set of strength and flexibility exercises can be done anywhere without any special equipment, making them a good substitute routine to use while traveling.
In the journals: Radio wave treatment is effective against Barrett's esophagus
Barrett's esophagus occurs when cells lining the lower esophagus are replaced by intestinal cells brought up by acid reflux. A new technique uses radio waves from an electromagnetic coil to kill the affected cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged.
In the journals: Pelvic organ prolapse: Vaginal delivery is not the only cause
Pelvic organ prolapse is more common in women who have given birth vaginally, but a study of Swedish women who had prolapse identified several other potential causes related to lifestyle and other health conditions.
In the journals: Perimenopausal mental lags are real but temporary
A study of women in several stages of menopause found that a slight cognitive lag occurs in late perimenopause, but it is temporary.
By the way, doctor: What causes ice-cream headache?
What exactly happens when I eat something cold and get an ice-cream headache? Is it harmful in any way?
By the way, doctor: What do you think of platelet-rich plasma therapy?
What's your professional opinion of platelet-rich plasma therapy for soft tissue injuries? Is it safe for older adults?
Botox: Beyond cosmetic fixes
Most people are familiar with botulinum toxin (Botox) as a treatment to lessen the appearance of facial wrinkles, but it has other medical uses, such as treating uncontrollable muscle spasms and anal fissures.
Anaphylaxis: An overwhelming allergic reaction
Anaphylaxis is a serious and potentially fatal reaction to an allergen. People at risk must carry injectable epinephrine and know how to use it in the event of an attack.
In the journals: Link found between migraines with aura and late-life brain lesions in women
Women who experience migraine headaches with aura may be at higher risk of developing brain lesions later in life.
In the journals: Soy extracts don't improve bone density in older women
Adding a soy protein or isoflavone supplement did not prevent bone loss or encourage bone growth in postmenopausal women.
In the journals: Endometrial ablation is shown to be safe and effective
Women who are considering having a hysterectomy to relieve heavy menstrual bleeding may find microwave endometrial ablation a less invasive option.
By the way, doctor: Is a tanning bed safer than sunlight?
Does tanning in a tanning bed cause less damage than natural sunlight?
Molecular advances in early breast cancer
Advances in understanding the molecular biology of breast cancer have led to a new tumor classification system that can help clinicians determine which treatments are most likely to be effective.
Becoming a vegetarian
A vegetarian diet can meet all a person's nutritional needs if planned thoughtfully. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, avoid saturated fats, watch calories and portions, and be physically active.
In the journals: Study shows that a new type of osteoporosis drug reduces fracture risk
Testing of a new type of drug for the treatment of osteoporosis found that it reduced fracture risk, though it has not yet been compared to the other osteoporosis medications already available.
In the journals: Psychodynamic therapy is effective in treating chronic worry
A study comparing two types of therapy treatment for generalized anxiety disorder found that both therapies produced persistent positive results.
By the way, doctor: Should I try Renessa for urinary incontinence?
I have stress urinary incontinence and don't want to have surgery. What can you tell me about Renessa?
By the way, doctor: Should I have my knee replaced?
Fifteen years ago, I had surgery for a torn meniscus and was told I had arthritis. I'm now 79, and my knee hurts most days, though I still exercise daily on a stationary bike. I hate to take pills. Should I consider a knee replacement?
Sodium, salt, and you
Public health officials and agencies contend that most people should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day or less. The average American tends to consume more than twice this amount per day.
In the journals: Yoga therapy helps relieve chronic lower back pain
A study of people with chronic low back pain found that those who participated in a particular form of yoga therapy had less pain after six months.
In the journals: Weight lifting eases lymphedema symptoms in breast cancer survivors
Breast cancer survivors who followed a strength training workout program had fewer problems with lymphedema, a common side effect of breast cancer treatment.
In the journals: Nonsurgical approach unlocks contracted fingers
Dupuytren's contracture is a condition in which one or more fingers is chronically bent. A nonsurgical treatment uses an injection of an enzyme solution that allows the contracture to be released.
Flu update: This year, reducing your risk for the flu will require two kinds of shots
The emergence of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus means that many people will need two separate flu shots to be fully protected.
By the way, doctor: Does hormone therapy cause dementia?
The Women's Health Initiative found that hormone therapy wasn't helpful for avoiding dementia there was some suggestion that it might even cause cognitive problems. Am I at risk for dementia by continuing hormone therapy?
By the way, doctor: Do inversion tables work?
What do you think about using inversion tables to relieve back pain?
What to do about postmenopausal fracture risk
The World Health Organization's FRAX is a risk assessment tool that predicts the likelihood of a bone fracture. This information can help identify people who may have osteoporosis and should get a bone mineral density test.
Hypothyroidism can manifest in a variety of symptoms including elevated cholesterol, lower heart rate, and changes in weight and appetite. A blood test will determine whether or not a person's thyroid function is normal.
In the journals: Healthy lifestyle, including plenty of physical activity, cuts colon cancer risk
Analysis of data from the Nurses' Health Study found that women who got the most physical activity and practiced other healthy habits were half as likely to develop colon cancer.
In the journals: Optimism may lower your risk of heart disease
Research from the Women's Health Initiative found a strong correlation between a woman's level of optimism or cynicism and risk or heart disease, cancer, or death from any cause.
In the news: Large trial will test vitamin D and omega-3s
A five-year study hopes to determine whether vitamin D and omega-3 fats have an effect on rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
By the way, doctor: Do I need a booster vaccination against whooping cough?
A friend was recently diagnosed with whooping cough. Her doctor told her that everyone, no matter what age, should be vaccinated for the disease every 10 years. Is that true?
By the way, doctor: What causes acid reflux in the throat?
I developed a hoarse voice and annoying phlegm in my throat and was surprised to learn that the cause was acid reflux. I've never had heartburn, so I don't know how this could have happened. Can you explain?
Eight for 2008: Eight things you should know about osteoporosis and fracture risk
All women need to be concerned about osteoporosis, protecting their bones and keeping them strong. Proper nutrition is the key to bone strength: the body needs calcium and vitamin D, and if diet does not provide enough, supplements should be taken.
Comparing surgeries for stress incontinence
Women who suffer from stress incontinence have treatment options incluuding several established surgical procedures. Some women have had success with collagen injections to strengthen the tissue surrounding the urethra.
From the journals: Unhealthy for women not to speak up during marital spats
Researchers found that women who did not express their feelings during marital arguments were at higher risk of dying prematurely.
From the journals: Ovary removal linked to risk for dementia, parkinsonism
Data from studies in Minnesota indicated that women who had one or both ovaries removed for reasons other than cancer were more likely to develop cognitive problems or movement disorders later in life.
By the way, doctor: Does having ridged and split fingernails mean I'm unhealthy?
I'm 63, and I've begun to notice a decline in the quality of my fingernails. They have up-and-down ridges, and at the tips, they're always splitting. I've heard you can tell a lot about a person's health from her nails. What does this say about mine?
The status of statins
Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac disease in women as well as in men. They may also reduce the risk of breast cancer and slow the progression of cognitive decline, and in general, their benefits seem to outweigh their risks.
The case for exercise in managing chronic lung disease
People who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may find it difficult to exercise, but a program of pulmonary rehabilitation followed by a regular exercise routine can help rebuild strength and energy.
Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome is a burning or stinging pain in the mouth. While a burning sensation in the mouth can be caused by other conditions and some medications, the primary form of the disorder may be caused by faulty nerve fibers.
From the journals: Nighttime awakenings in menopause may be caused by sleep disorders, not hot flashes
Hot flashes were believed to be responsible for disruptions in sleep in menopausal women, but a study found that half the participants had a primary sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or periodic limb movements.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about earwax buildup?
My doctor recently noticed lots of wax in my ear, almost blocking the canal. How did this happen? What should I do about it?
By the way, doctor: What is keratosis pilaris?
Ever since my teens, I've had a rash that looks like goose bumps on my arms and legs. My doctor says it's keratosis pilaris. What do you know about this condition?
The ups and downs of folic acid fortification
Folic acid is essential to the production of new cells, and helps protect against certain kinds of birth defects, but studies have suggested that an excess of folic acid may contribute to the growth of cancer cells.
In Brief: "No-bones" calculator can help predict hip fracture risk
Bone density is used as a key indicator of a woman's risk of hip fracture, but an online assessment that uses other factors to determine risk may be useful to women who have a normal bone density reading.
Combating MRSA: The drug-resistant "superbug"
Though the drug-resistant bacterial infection known as MRSA typically occurs in hospital settings, new cases have developed as patients are discharged and bring the infection with them into their communities.
Floaters, flashes, and retinal tears
Floaters and flashes in the eyes are fairly common among older people, but sometimes they can indicate a retinal tear, which, if not treated promptly, can lead to retinal detachment.
From the journals: Four small lifestyle changes can mean an extra 14 years
A study found that people who followed four easily accomplished healthy behavior habits lived an average of 14 years longer than those who did not practice any of them.
By the way, doctor: Should I get the HPV vaccine if I'm already infected?
I'm 26 and positive for HPV. Is there any point in my getting the new HPV vaccine?
By the way, doctor: What are the side effects of lithium?
What can you tell me about the side effects of lithium? I've heard it causes thyroid and memory problems.
Negotiating the "bio-identicals" controversy
The FDA has taken issue with certain pharmacies that produce custom-compounded hormone therapy products, because some of them claim, without proof, that their products are safer or more effective than traditionally-produced hormones.
In the journals: Strength training relieves chronic neck pain
In a study, women who followed a program of exercises designed to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles experienced a significant decrease in neck pain.
Dermal fillers: Caulking the lines of time
Dermal fillers, which are substances injected into the skin, are increasing in popularity as an alternative to face lifts for women who wish to look younger. They are less expensive than cosmetic surgery, and the procedures are also simpler and faster.
In Brief: Research backs cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections in women
An analysis of studies found that regular consumption of cranberry juice (or other cranberry products) helped reduce the likelihood of urinary tract infections in women who had a history of recurrent UTIs.
By the way, doctor: Should I be tested at Life Line Screening?
Do you recommend preventive screening for vascular disease through companies such as Life Line Screening? I just got a notice for one that also includes osteoporosis testing.
The dubious practice of detox
Various types of body detoxification processes, such as fast diets and intestinal cleansing, have become popular. Generally there is no medical evidence to support their claims of effectiveness, and there are risks to some of the procedures.
Treating lumbar spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the spinal cord or its nerves. Typically doctors recommend conservative treatment, mainly physical therapy and pain medication. Surgery may be needed if a patient does not improve.
In Brief: Aromatherapy's benefits limited to mood improvement
A study of aromatherapy found that while lemon oil did enhance mood, neither it nor lavender oil had any discernible effect on the body in terms of immune function or wound healing.
In Brief: Blood test for ovarian cancer shows promise in early study
Researchers have developed a test for ovarian cancer that works by testing for the presence of a group of proteins believed to be affected by tumor development in the body.
In Brief: Many drugs prevent fractures, but none is best, study finds
A review of dozens of studies of the various types of medications prescribed to help prevent fractures concluded that there is not enough evidence to declare that one medication is better than others.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about a high coronary calcium score?
What can you tell me about coronary calcium scores and overall heart health? I have a high calcium score but normal cholesterol. I don't smoke or have diabetes. My cardiologist thinks I should take a statin, but my internist disagrees. What should I do?
Depression at perimenopause: More than just hormones
Research affirms a previously established connection between perimenopause and depression. However, an expected link between depression and hormone levels was not found.
Up with HDL, the "good" cholesterol
While attention to cholesterol has largely focused on lowering LDL through the use of statins, raising HDL is equally important, if not more so. Niacin boosts HDL, but its side effects can be tricky, so some people try exercise and dietary changes.
What to do about hemorrhoids
Many people experience the discomfort of hemorrhoids. Often they can be treated effectively with topical products and by eating more fiber. If they persist, surgical options are available.
Artificial joints for the hand and wrist
Arthritis sufferers may find some relief by having wrist joint replacement surgery. In some cases the wrist joints are fused, but this affects dexterity. Certain finger joints can also be replaced, though the success rate for these surgeries is lower.
By the way, doctor: How long can I keep getting cortisone shots in my knee?
I've been getting cortisone injections in my knee for osteoarthritis every four months. What are the possible side effects, and how long can I continue this? I'm a strong 81-year-old.
By the way, doctor: Which is better, flaxseed or fish oil?
For the healthy omega-3 fats we hear so much about, which is better - ground flaxseed or fish oil capsules?
Age no bar to routine mammography
Traditionally, mammography has not been recommended for women over 70, but as this age group grows in size, evidence is starting to support the position that breast cancer screening makes sense for older women.
Travel tips: Ways to minimize jet lag
Tips for minimizing jet lag when traveling include shifting to your destination time zone before leaving, staying hydrated, but avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and getting into the rhythm of the local time as quickly as possible after arriving.
What to do about fibroids
Uterine fibroids frequently do not cause any symptoms and are generally not dangerous, but they can cause discomfort and heavy menstrual bleeding. If medications are not effective, there are surgical options, some of which are minimally invasive.
Anxiety and physical illness
Persistent anxiety can contribute to respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and heart disease. Treating anxiety with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination can reduce or relieve physiological distress.
By the way, doctor: What are drusen, and why do I have them?
My ophthalmologist says I have drusen scattered over the macula in both eyes and wants to check them every nine months. Could you say something about what drusen are and what they mean?
Staying independent in our later years
Aging does not automatically mean relinquishing independence. Independent living can be sustained through attention to health issues like diet, exercise, control of blood pressure, vision, and maintaining a safe home environment to prevent falls.
In the journals: Head maneuvers work best for common vertigo
A study found that a series of head movements known as the Epley maneuver was an effective and safe treatment for those suffering from vertigo.
In the journals: Experts call for home blood pressure monitoring
Three organizations of cardiovascular experts recommend daily at-home blood pressure monitoring for those patients who have hypertension or are on the borderline of having it.
In the news: FDA approves one drug for irritable bowel syndrome but suspends another
The FDA has approved a new medication for constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, soon after suspending another drug and restricting it to use only in emergency situations.
By the way, doctor: Can Hoodia help you lose weight?
I've seen a lot of Internet ads for Hoodia, a natural supplement that suppresses your appetite. What do you know about it? Does it work, and is it safe?
By the way, doctor: What's in sunscreen that protects against UVA rays?
What UVA-blocking ingredients should I look for in a sunscreen? And does a higher SPF rating mean greater UVA protection?
Time for more vitamin D
Vitamin D has been linked to a growing list of health benefits beyond bone strengthening, but many people, particularly seniors, have vitamin D deficiency. Because few foods are rich in the vitamin, taking a supplement is recommended.
Heart failure in women
Many factors can cause or contribute to heart failure in women, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Treatment generally involves medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and diuretics.
In the journals: Nerve block quells hot flashes in women with breast cancer
A procedure called stellate ganglion blockade, in which an anaesthetic is injected into a nerve cluster in the neck, helped relieve hot flashes and sleep disturbances in test subjects who were taking breast cancer medications.
In the journals: Coffee drinking lowers mortality risk in women
Researchers found an association between increased coffee consumption and a lower death rate, primarily due to fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease.
In the journals: No cardiovascular help from B vitamins in high-risk women
A study found that women at high risk for cardiovascular disease did not benefit from taking B vitamins, even though they lowered levels of homocysteine, which at high levels has been linked to cardiovascular trouble.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about Meibomian cysts?
I have small white bumps on my eyelids, which are driving me crazy. They don't hurt, but they look awful. I've been told they're Meibomian cysts and that the only solution is surgery. What is your take on this?
Understanding ductal carcinoma in situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a very early and highly curable form of breast cancer in which abnormal cells are still in the process of evolving into cancer cells. Increased use of mammography means that the disease is being diagnosed and treated earlier.
Core conditioning: It's not just about abs
Core conditioning refers to exercises that strengthen the muscles in the lower back, stomach, and pelvic area. Strengthening the core promotes good posture and overall fitness.
In the journals: Sleep duration affects stroke risk in postmenopausal women
Researchers found that women who slept a lot (nine or more hours a night) or a little (six or less hours per night) were at higher risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and premature death.
In the journals: Hormone therapy: Gallbladder risk is lower with a patch than a pill
Women who take hormone therapy have a higher risk of gallbladder disease, but a study found that women who received hormones through a skin patch or gel had a lower risk than those who took hormones orally.
In the journals: Viagra improves sexual function in women taking antidepressants
The erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil may improve sexual function in women who take antidepressants, but it does not boost sexual desire.
By the way, doctor: Should I be worried about a kidney cyst?
Recently, I had a pelvic ultrasound to evaluate uterine fibroids. During the procedure, the radiologist found a cyst in one of my kidneys. Should I be concerned about kidney cancer?
By the way, doctor: Does red yeast rice reduce cholesterol?
I've heard that red yeast rice can help lower cholesterol. What can you tell me about its effectiveness and safety?
What's the story with Fosamax?
Research suggests that the osteoporosis medication Fosamax, if taken for a long period of time, could cause a change in bones that makes them more susceptible to fracture. But the studies in question are inconclusive, so more research is necessary.
Managing common vulvar skin conditions
There are a number of skin conditions that can affect the vulva. Sometimes the products a woman uses every day can irritate the skin or provoke an allergic reaction.
Preparing for a colonoscopy
Preparation for a colonoscopy involves taking a substance the day before the procedure that induces bowel-clearing diarrhea. It's unpleasant and takes several hours, but adequate preparation can make the process somewhat easier to endure.
By the way, doctor: Should I get an implant to treat an overactive bladder?
I'm 80 and suffer from an overactive bladder that hasn't responded to the usual treatments. My urologist is recommending an Interstim neuromodulator. What are the pros and cons of this therapy?
What to do about social anxiety disorder
For those with social anxiety disorder, social situations are highly distressing. The condition may stem from self-image and fear of being judged by others. Treatment typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy and an anti-anxiety medication.
Treating osteoporotic fractures of the spine
About half of all osteoporosis-related fractures occur in the vertebrae. The initial treatment is usually a back brace and pain medication. If a patient is still in pain after several weeks, there are procedures to stabilize a damaged vertebra.
In the journals: Studies find a link between hot flashes and cardiovascular risk
Three large studies showed an association between hot flashes and increased risk of heart disease or stroke.
In the journals: Alexander technique helps relieve chronic back pain
A British study found that people with chronic back pain who had regular sessions of a rehabilitative movement discipline known as the Alexander technique felt better and had fewer days with pain.
By the way, doctor: How long should I keep getting Pap tests?
Is there an age when a woman no longer needs a Pap smear?
New view of heart disease in women
A landmark study found that women are susceptible to a different type of heart disease called microvascular dysfunction. It affects both larger and smaller blood vessels, but is not detected by the standard cardiac tests.
Recovering from an ankle sprain
Ankle sprains are common, but they require proper treatment to heal correctly. You should rest for one or two days and use ice to reduce swelling, then begin exercising to regain strength and range of motion.
In Brief: Experts say benefits of eating fish outweigh possible risks
Two reports conclude that the health benefits of eating seafood outweigh any risks. However, some people should avoid certain kinds of fish, and it's wise to stay informed regarding toxins in seafood.
Update: New research sheds light on "chemobrain"
Two studies show that chemotherapy and cancer drugs may have lingering effects on the brain after treatment concludes. Memory and attention are affected, but not permanently.
By the way, doctor: Are NSAIDs available in a patch?
I understand that NSAID patches are used in Europe to treat some kinds of arthritis. Are they available in the United States?
By the way, doctor: How does radiation cause thyroid cancer?
What kind of radiation causes thyroid cancer? What about microwave ovens and dental x-rays?
Lung cancer screening in women
Women are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than men, even if they have never smoked. Screening via a spiral CT scan can detect tumors while they are still treatable.
What to do about cataract
For people with cataracts, surgery is common and safe, and is typically covered by insurance. Depending on need and other eye issues, various types of lenses are available.
In Brief: Hot flash herb no better than placebo in large trial
A study by the National Institutes of Health found that black cohosh, an herb marketed to treat hot flashes, performed no better than a placebo.
The benefits of balance training
Balance training helps the body recover after an injury by relearning proprioception, its sense of itself in space. It can also help older people maintain mobility and prevent falls.
By the way, doctor: Does lysine prevent cold sores?
For years, I was plagued by cold sores and took antiviral drugs to treat the outbreaks. But at a friend's suggestion, I started taking lysine every day, and it seems to prevent them altogether. What do you know about this supplement?
By the way, doctor: Does taking Prilosec cause hip fractures?
I heard that taking a proton-pump inhibitor could cause hip fractures. I've been taking 20 mg of Prilosec every day for a year. Should I be concerned?
A better way to predict cardiovascular risk
The Framingham risk-assessment tool is used to evaluate a person's risk of heart attack, but it does not consider the influence of inflammation. Researchers have developed a new tool that uses three additional factors to evaluate your heart attack risk.
In Brief: Cognitive behavioral therapy helps ease tinnitus discomforts
A review of research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy may provide some relief for those who suffer from tinnitus.
In Brief: Even mildly impaired kidney function can affect bone health
Even slightly decreased kidney function can cause a much higher risk of a hip fracture, because the kidneys produce vitamin D, and disrupting their function affects the body's regulation of calcium.
What to do about tennis elbow
Tennis elbow can persist for months, and is often prolonged by returning too soon to the activities that caused it. Various treatments can offer temporary relief, but the best course of action is to limit activity and take a pain reliever.
Sunscreens: New wave in sun protection: Blocking ultraviolet A
Experts now believe that ultraviolet A rays are as damaging to the skin as UVB rays. There is no standard for measuring effectiveness of UVA protection in sunscreens, but there are products on the market that protect well against both UVA and UVB.
C. difficile-associated disease on the rise
C. difficile, a bacterium that can infect the digestive tract, was formerly a problem primarily for the elderly and hospitalized. But the number of cases of C. difficile-related illness is growing, and they are more severe and harder to treat.
By the way, doctor: How often do I need a bone density test?
I'm a healthy 65-year-old woman and just had my first bone density test. How often do I need to have it repeated?
Why regular check-ups are still a good idea
Although guidelines recommend an as-needed, prevention-based approach to check-ups, both doctors and patients prefer an annual physical exam because it fosters and strengthens their relationship, leading to better overall care.
In Brief: Pelvic organ prolapse can run in the family
Studies of pelvic organ prolapse suggest that there may be a genetic tendency for the condition to run in families, making it more likely to be inherited and more likely to develop in some pairs of female siblings.
Exercise after age 70
Fitness is important at every age. For seniors, regular exercise can improve or perhaps prolong life. An exercise program for someone over 70 should focus on cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, improving flexibility, and improving balance.
Joint problems: Caution in treating temporomandibular disorders
Temporomandibular (jaw) disorders are typically very painful. Some people undergo treatments and even surgeries that do not offer any proven benefits. Conservative treatment is the safest approach.
By the way, doctor: What can I do about vitiligo?
I have white skin patches on both hands. My doctor says it's vitiligo. What causes this, and how can I treat it?
Exploring the depression-bone connection
Studies of a link between depression and osteoporosis suggest the bone deterioration could be a result of the depression, or may be caused by taking antidepressant medications for a long period of time.
Managing irritable bowel syndrome without special drugs
The FDA removed the drug Zelnorm, used to treat IBS, from the market due to concerns about increased risk of heart disease. Other mediciations and some over-the-counter products may help relieve discomfort from IBS, depending on the symptoms.
Driving safely as we get older
If you have concerns about your ability to continue driving safely as you age, periodically evaluate your health and any issues that may affect your driving skills, and consider taking a driver retraining course.
Changing the rules on CPR for cardiac arrest
Victims of cardiac arrest who received only chest compressions, without interruption for breaths, had a much lower risk of suffering neurological damage as a result of the attack.
By the way, doctor: Should I switch from tamoxifen to an aromatase inhibitor?
Two years ago, I had a lumpectomy and radiation for invasive early-stage breast cancer. My oncologist prescribed five years of tamoxifen. But I keep hearing about new drugs that might be better. Should I switch to one of these newer drugs?
Repaying your sleep debt
Besides the effets of fatigue and irritability, a sustained sleep defecit can lead to a greater risk of other health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
What to do about rotator cuff tendinitis
Rotator cuff tendinits is the most common shoulder injury. The best course of treatment is to rest, apply ice, take ibuprofen, and do stretching and strengthening exercises.
In Brief: Study reveals the biology of patient-psychotherapist empathy
A study found that when patients and therapists have a strong, positive emotional connection, their bodies' physiological reactions were also closely matched.
In Brief: Overweight linked to lower death risk in older women
Researchers found that a body mass index in the overweight range was not necessarily an accurate predictor of death rate in older women, but additional weight still increases the risk of many other health problems.
In Brief: Drop in breast cancer may reflect decline in hormone use
The recent decrease in new breast cancer cases in women over 50 appears to be linked to the decline in the use of hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause.
By the way, doctor: Should I supplement my diet with Ambrotose?
What do you know about the health supplement Ambrotose? I looked it up on the Internet, where it's described as an "advanced glyconutrient."
By the way, doctor: Should I take an intravenous drug for osteoporosis?
I've been taking a Fosamax pill once a week for two years for osteoporosis. I heard that there is an intravenous drug for osteoporosis that's taken just once a year. Should I consider switching to it?
New cervical cancer vaccine highly promising, but questions remain
Studies of the cervical cancer vaccine found that it was most effective when given before the start of sexual activity, but the benefits and risks of the vaccine over time are still not fully known.
In Brief: Hysterectomy doesn't harm - and may help - sexual function
Researchers found that women who had a hysterectomy did not suffer a decline in sexual satisfaction after the surgery, but rather an improvement.
Easing the pain of plantar fasciitis
The pain of plantar fascitis can often be relieved with rest, ice, and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen. Stretching will help restore flexibility so pain does not return upon resuming your activities.
In the News: Heart failure risk prompts warning labels on diabetes drugs
The FDA has ordered a warning label be put on the diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos due to evidence from studies that the medications may increase the risk of heart attack or death from cardiovascular disease.
By the way, doctor: Can strontium help treat osteoporosis?
What can you tell me about the mineral strontium, which is advertised for treating osteoporosis?
By the way, doctor: How much should I limit my salt intake?
If I want to lower my blood pressure, how much salt can I afford to take in?
Wake-up call on stroke in women
More women than men are victims of stroke, and the consequences for survivors are more serious in women. Medication to dissolve blood clots is available, but must be administered within the first three hours after a stroke to be most effective.
Exercise: Rx for overcoming osteoarthritis
Exercise does not increase the risk for osteoarthritis, and in fact is beneficial for those who have it, because it helps to strengthen muscles, improve balance and flexibility, ease stiffness, and promote overall health and well-being.
In Brief: Certain symptoms may be early signs of ovarian cancer
Researchers have identified four symptoms that are more likely to occur in women who develop ovarian cancer. Women who experience one or more of these symptoms for more than a few weeks should get a pelvic exam.
In Brief: Retinol helps reverse normal skin aging
In addition to treating damage to the skin caused by sun exposure, topical retinol has also been found to be effective in treating the normal signs of aging on the skin, but the treatments must be continued in order to remain effective.
In Brief: Dietary calcium may be better for bones than calcium pills
A study found that women who consumed a greater percentage of their daily calcium intake from dietary sources had a higher bone mineral density than women who got more of their calcium from a supplement.
By the way, doctor: Is it safe to take a pill that eliminates periods?
Some of my friends are excited about the new oral contraceptive that eliminates periods. But it worries me. Does anyone know what happens when you stop menstruating for a long time? It just seems unnatural.
MRI's emerging role in breast cancer screening
Studies have found that MRI tests used in addition to mammography detected more cancers in women at high risk for breast cancer. Women at average risk would not necessarily benefit from the additional testing.
Recovering from a stroke
After a stroke, the body can often recover some functions on its own if medical care is received promptly, but many people also need some form of rehabilatation program or physical, speech, or occupational therapy.
In Brief: New way to test triglycerides helps reveal women's heart risk
Two studies found that women with high nonfasting triglyceride levels (measured after a meal) had a much higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
By the way, doctor: Is palm oil good for you?
I was surprised to see an ad in one of my cooking magazines promoting palm oil as a healthy fat. I thought it was supposed to be really bad for you. What's the story?
By the way, doctor: Is it okay to take antibiotics indefinitely to prevent urinary tract infections?
This year I've had four urinary tract infections. Each cleared up with antibiotic treatment. Now, my doctor is prescribing a prophylactic antibiotic, Bactrim 400/80, that I'm supposed to take every day. Are there long-term risks in this?
By the way, doctor: Should I get the shingles vaccine?
I'm 67 and had shingles four years ago. Am I immune to it now? If not, should I get the new shingles vaccine?
Keeping portions in proportion
Increasing portion sizes mean we consume more calories, which has contributed to the increase in obesity among Americans. Discipline and changes in habits can help us reduce how much we eat, while still maintaining a good nutritional balance.
The habits and behaviors of a healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of stroke: don't smoke, exercise, keep cholesterol and blood presure as low as possible, and eat a healthy diet.
In Brief: Hypnosis before breast cancer surgery eases pain, cuts costs
A study found that women who underwent hypnosis before a breast cancer biopsy or surgical procedure were more relaxed, felt less anxiety and pain, and required less anaesthesia.
By the way, doctor: Is vaginal estrogen safe?
My doctor prescribed a low-dose vaginal estrogen cream, applied twice a week, for atrophic vaginitis. I've heard this dose is so low that it carries no health risk. Do you agree?
By the way, doctor: Am I taking too much vitamin D?
I take Fosamax with vitamin D and a multivitamin that contains vitamin D. Now I see my calcium tablets also have vitamin D in them. Am I in danger of getting too much of this vitamin?
Revisiting hormone therapy's risks and benefits
Though long-term hormone therapy has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, short-term use may still be beneficial for certain symptoms, and without the risk of heart disease if started early in menopause.
Topical drug treatments for age spots
Physical removal of age spots can be costly and painful. Topical treatments take time to work, but are generally safe, cost less than removal procedures, and are easier on the skin.
From the Journals: Herbs and supplements for anxiety: Kava, inositol may help
There is evidence that certain herbs and supplements may be effective in treating certain types of anxiety disorders.
In Brief: Dietary lutein and zeaxanthin may slow macular degeneration
Diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, typically found in fruits and vegetables, can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Researchers will attempt to determine if taking the substances in a supplement can produce similar benefits.
By the way, doctor: Do I need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug?
I'm 53 and on the fence about taking a medication for cholesterol. My father had three bypass surgeries during his lifetime. My cholesterol is high (256), but my good cholesterol is also high (62). My LDL cholesterol is 161. Should I take a medication?
By the way, doctor: Why do I yawn when I exercise?
I'm 40, and for the past few years I've been starting to yawn whenever I get an intense aerobic workout. Is this something I should worry about?