Q. I seem to get diarrhea more often now than I used to when I was younger. Any ideas why?
Before I offer you some general information about diarrhea, I urge you to see a doctor for a diagnosis. As I tell everyone who writes to me, I’m a journalist, not a physician.
Diarrhea is caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, certain foods, medicines and diseases. Diarrhea is a common malady that usually lasts a day or two and goes away without treatment. In the United States, it’s second only to respiratory infections in reported illnesses.
Q. My husband is getting a drinker’s nose. He reminds me of W.C. Fields. But my husband doesn’t really drink more than an occasional beer. I don’t get it.
W.C. Fields, the vaudevillian and comedic actor in early films, was known to hoist more than an occasional beer. But Fields got his red, bumpy nose from rosacea, not alcohol. Former President Bill Clinton has rosacea and so did the late financier J.P. Morgan.
In the previous “Healthy Geezer” column, we discussed pacemakers. In this column, we’ll continue on the general topic of heart regulation with information about implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.
An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is like a pacemaker.
A pacemaker and an ICD are battery-powered devices installed in the chest to deliver electrical impulses to the heart. In general, a pacemaker is used when the heart beats too slowly. An ICD is used when the heart beats too quickly.
Q. Will sex mess up my pacemaker?
Only if powerful magnets are involved. Seriously, your pacemaker is safe. Modern pacemakers are stable devices. But there are still some precautions you should take if you’ve had one of these miraculous gizmos implanted in your chest.
There could be some problems to be aware of. Power machines are dangerous. Stand at least two feet away from arc-welding equipment, high-voltage transformers and motor-generator systems.
Q. My doctor says it’s time for a colonoscopy. Please tell me I shouldn’t worry about this exam.
You definitely shouldn’t worry. I’ve had the three major tests for colon cancer: sigmoidoscopy (very uncomfortable), barium enema (a nightmare) and colonoscopy.
I was given anesthesia for the colonoscopy and all I recall is getting on the examining table, feeling like I had a cocktail, and waking up in recovery as rested as if I had a late-afternoon nap on the beach.
Q. I had to have some minor surgery on my foot and I want to get a cane. What kind should I get?
This is a question that opens up the subject of mobility aids, the icons of aging. We’ll discuss canes in this column and save crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters for a future column.
Q. Do people who are color blind see everything in black and white?
"Color blindness" is the common term used to describe color vision deficiency. The term is misleading because total color blindness that turns the world into shades of gray is rare.
The most common type of color blindness makes it difficult for people to discriminate between red and green. The next most common form of the deficiency affects the perception of blues and yellows. Those with blue-yellow blindness almost always have red-green blindness, too.
Q. What exactly is a "charley horse" and why do I get them in my legs at night?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the term "charley horse" was first used in the 1880s by baseball players to describe a muscle cramp. No one knows the true origin, but the dictionary states, "Among the more likely theories proposed is that it alludes to the name of either a horse or an afflicted ball player who limped like one of the elderly draft horses formerly employed to drag the infield."
Q. I had a bad cold so I asked my doctor for an antibiotic. He seemed reluctant, but I insisted and he gave me the prescription. I was supposed to take it for 10 days, but I stopped after seven days because I felt better and I ...
Stop! Next you'll tell me you prefer not to cover your mouth when you cough.
Taking antibiotics unnecessarily and not completing your prescription are the leading causes of "superbugs," bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These superbugs are one of the most serious threats to global public health.
Q. What's the difference between a CAT scan and an MRI?
The CAT scan, MRI and others are known as diagnostic-imaging tests. Let's go over the common ones.
X-ray;One of the oldest forms of medical imaging , an X-ray examination uses electromagnetic radiation to make pictures.
An X-ray machine passes a beam through your body and records an image digitally or on film. Body tissues produce different results. Tissues show up in shades of gray. Bones look white. Lungs that contain air appear dark.