Q. This may sound like a crazy question, but is it possible to use your own stomach to take over for your kidneys when they aren’t working right?
This question isn’t as bizarre as it seems. It is possible to use the abdominal cavity, which includes the stomach, to perform kidney functions. Kidneys are designed to remove waste and extra fluid from your blood. These organs contain millions of tiny blood vessels to handle this task. They also make hormones that keep your bones strong and your blood healthy.
Q. I’ve been having some difficulty swallowing food for the past few weeks. Is this something to worry about or is it just another one of those age things?
Q. I have vivid memories of my mother’s dentures in a glass next to her bed. As I enter my seventies, is this what I have to look forward to?
Q. I get indigestion often and can’t figure out why. How can I find what is causing it?
Indigestion, or an upset stomach, is a general term for discomfort in your upper abdomen. This discomfort can take the form of burning stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, bloating, burping and vomiting. If, in addition to your upset stomach, you experience sweating, shortness of breath or pain radiating to the jaw, neck or arm, get medical attention immediately. You could be having a heart attack.
Q. I’ve been told to drink more water. How much is enough?
First, water intake is a health issue that you should discuss with your doctor before deciding how much you should drink. The amount you drink is dependent upon the state of your personal health.
Drinking insufficient amounts of fluids is the common problem. However, some conditions such as heart failure and kidney disease may require cutting back on fluids.
Q. My mother had varicose veins in her legs and now I’m getting them. She put up with them. I don’t want to. So how do I get rid of them?
Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins that bulge in legs, but they can appear in other places. Varicose veins are more common in legs because veins from the groin to the ankles endure the most pressure of any veins in the body. Varicose veins affect half of people over the age 50. Women get varicose veins more often than men.
Q. My son picked up an infection in the hospital recently. It sounded like the doctors were calling it “see-dift.” It gave him terrible diarrhea. Do you know what this is?
The doctors were referring to the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which is often called C. diff or C. difficile. There’s a good chance you’ll be hearing more about C. diff because infections are increasing throughout the world.
Q. I have Dupuytren’s contracture. It runs in my family. I think you should write a column about this because it affects older people.
Thank you for this suggestion. It got me researching hand disorders, a subject that has many colorful names for some nasty afflictions. Here are some of them:
Q. Over the years, I’ve been buying larger shoes. Could it be that my feet are getting bigger, or is it that I’ve gradually begun to prefer shoes with more room in them?
Feet do get bigger over decades of pounding. Some people over the age of 40 can gain half a shoe size every 10 years. I know my feet are larger than they used to be. I’ve gone from a 10½ shoe when I was a young adult, to a 12 in my geezer years.
The foot is a complicated machine. It contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Q. Why do old men have big ears?
I didn’t believe the premise of this question. Well, it turns out that old men, and women, have bigger ears than they had as young adults. In short, your ears grow larger as you age. I know this sounds like a myth, but it’s been proven by scientific studies. Examples:
Researchers at the Veterans Administration Medical Center-Texas Tech University found that ear circumference increases an average of 0.51 millimeters per year.