Q. I’ve been told that hand-washing is highly effective way to prevent the spread of infections. But what is the best way to wash your hands?
Hand-washing is the best and simplest way to prevent infection and illness, but it must be done properly and often to be effective.
Infectious diseases that are commonly spread by our hands include colds, flu and gastrointestinal disorders.
Q. I’ve been having a lot of gas recently. In addition, I’ve been getting sores in my mouth. Any ideas about what’s causing this?
I receive many questions from readers looking for help in diagnosing their health problems. I’m extremely careful to avoid giving personal medical advice. I’m a journalist who provides general information about health. Only a doctor who has examined a patient is qualified to diagnose, and even the experts have trouble figuring out what’s wrong with patients.
Q. I have a leaky heart valve that may need surgery. Can you tell me about heart-valve surgery?
First, let’s explain briefly how the heart works.
There are four chambers in the heart: two atria on top and two ventricles below. There are four valves that open and shut with every heartbeat to control the circulation of the blood. These valves, which are made of tissue flaps, are called the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic.
Q. I was told that a copper bracelet can help relieve arthritis pain? True?
I’ve also heard that you can get relief by rubbing WD-40 on painful joints. I’m not being facetious. There are people who believe the multi-purpose liquid is an arthritis fixer.
There is no scientific evidence that copper bracelets do anything more than make a fashion statement. However, there is no proof that the bracelets don’t provide relief to arthritis sufferers.
Q. My breasts have become large and I’m embarrassed. What can I do?
This question came from a man in his 60s. Breast enlargement in males is common. So is the embarrassment. About 30 percent of older men have this condition, which can be caused by hormonal changes or simple weight gain. It can occur in one or both breasts.
When the usual balance of the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone testosterone in a man shifts, he can get “gynecomastia,” which is derived from two Greek words that mean “woman” and “breast.”
Q. As an authentic geezer, I’ve had so many medical tests that I think I’ve seen more acronyms than were around during the New Deal. Recently, a friend of mine suggested that I get a TSH test for my thyroid. What, in the name of FDR, is a TSH test?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism, which are the chemical processes cells in the body perform to keep us alive.
Q. I retired and moved from northern Minnesota to Florida. I was wondering if there is any way that someone in the Sunshine State can get hypothermia.
Q. Since my eyes started to go, I’ve been hallucinating and I’m afraid to tell anyone about it. Any ideas?
Hallucinations can be a symptom of a variety of problems, both physical and mental. They can be caused by schizophrenia, dementia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, fever, drugs, and alcohol. You should see a doctor immediately about this symptom.
Q. We had a fire in our retirement community recently and an older woman died. Now I’m worried about fires. What can I do to protect myself?
Seniors face the highest risk of perishing in a fire because their senses don’t detect danger as easily as they used to, and they don’t move quickly to escape during an emergency. Fire safety is especially important for older people. The following is a list of 20 tips distilled from the best material to protect seniors from fire. First, here are fire-emergency recommendations:
Q. I’m a 76-year-old woman and I have to take a long nap every day because I’m up nights urinating. I know a lot of my contemporaries have the same problem. I’m curious to know how widespread this is.
First, don’t presume that the nightly bathroom trips are insignificant. See a doctor to determine the cause. There are solutions to your problem but they depend upon a diagnosis.