First of three parts
Breast cancer is second, behind lung cancer, as the leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman's life is about 1 in 8.
Q. Is bursitis age-related?
Yes. Bursitis occurs more often as we get older.
Repetitive motions are the worst things for people who tend to get bursitis. Other causes include joint trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and infection.
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, which is a small sac filled with fluid. We each have about 160 of these bursae, which act as shock absorbers and grease for our joints. They are buffers between bones and overlapping muscles or between bones and tendons/skin. When bursae become inflamed, they can ache.
Q. Who are the people most liable to be bitten by a dog?
More than 60 percent of the people who are bitten by dogs are children. The elderly are second. And people like mail carriers and meter readers are third.
Children often don't know how to act around dogs and frighten them into aggressive behavior. Older people are more prone to being bitten by an aggressive dog because they tend to be slower and weaker than younger adults. Mail carriers walk onto property the dogs consider their domain to defend.
Q. I usually get a bit light-headed when I stand, but this feeling is much worse when I get up from the dinner table. I don't drink. Any ideas?
There's a possibility you have "postprandial hypotension," or, in layman's language, low blood pressure after a meal. This is a senior malady. Few younger people experience this.
Other possible symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and fainting. I recommend going to a doctor to have your symptoms checked.
Q. I get a lot of gas and someone told me it would help if I stopped chewing gum all the time. I am an ex-smoker. That sounds like bunk to me. What do you think?
It's not bunk. When you chew gum, you swallow more often and some of what you're swallowing is air. In addition, artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol that is found in some gums can give you gas.
But, what exactly, is gas?
Q. Are older people more anxious than younger people?
Because the stresses of health problems, losses and and other major life changes build up as we get older, we tend to become anxious. Some surveys suggest that one in five older adults suffer anxiety symptoms that require treatment.
Q. I'm a senior who's having surgery and the one thing that scares me more than anything else is the anesthesia. Can you tell me anything to reduce my fear?
There are probably several sources for your fear. The first is that you're older and wonder if you're at greater risk than someone younger. The second is that anesthesia can be dangerous to anyone. The third is that you'll lose total control when you're under. I hope some of the facts about anesthesia will help with all of your fears.
Q. Aneurysms are scary. Do they have symptoms?
Aneurysms are artery bulges. And, yes, they are scary because, if they burst, they are lethal. Many victims of a ruptured aneurysm die before they get to a hospital.
The type and location of the aneurysm will determine the symptoms.
Chest aortic aneurysms, which occur in the large blood vessel (aorta) that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body, may cause shortness of breath, a raspy voice, backache or shoulder pain.
Q. I'm worried about falling. What should I do about this?
Well, first of all, you can't go around worrying about falling or you won't be relaxed and that can lead to a fall. So, you should concentrate on employing techniques to avoid falls and then don't let the fear take over you mind.
But a respect for the dangers of falling is justified by the statistics.
Q. Is ALS an old-person's disease, or does it affect every age group?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 70, but there have been cases of it in young adults, children and older people. The average age for getting ALS is 55.
ALS is known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the United States. Gehrig, who played baseball for the New York Yankees, died of the disease in 1941. In other countries, ALS is often called motor neuron disease. It is not contagious.