Upper respiratory infections: These infections which cause coughs, sore throats and congestion, are almost always caused by a virus infection and shouldn’t be treated with antibiotics. If symptoms continue to worsen, especially accompanied by a fever, see your doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Hepatitis C: Baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), should be tested for hepatitis C as more than two million Americans currently are infected with this disease and many who are, are unaware of it.
Advanced directives: Sometimes referred to as “living wills,” advanced directives direct physicians as to your wishes for medical treatment if you were to be incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own. Talk with your doctor about this important document.
Swallowing pills: If you have trouble swallowing them whole, most pills, capsules, or liquid medications, can be crushed and mixed in most any type of food. Check with your pharmacist to ensure that your particular pill or capsule can be mixed with food.
Hearing loss: If you are having problems with your hearing, make an appointment with a qualified audiologist and have a routine hearing test. Technological advances have made hearing aids an excellent option to restore hearing.
Hydration: To keep your body healthy, drink a glass of water or other low- or non-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal, and drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Constipation: First try life style changes such as adequate liquid intake, and regular exercise. Maintain a high fiber diet to include beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and less dairy, red meat and processed foods.
Childhood immunizations: Immunizations are safe. Many well-controlled scientific studies have all concluded that there is no scientific or statistical relationship between immunizations and autism.
Vision disease: See your doctor immediately if you have any obvious visual change. People between the ages of 18 and 50 should have routine eye exams every two years and every year after the age of 50. Children need routine eye exams as well. Ask your child’s doctor about the frequency.
Hair loss: Losing some 50 to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. If you are experiencing what you consider to be hair loss of more than or sooner than you expect, talk to your doctor or dermatologist. Do this before spending a lot hard earned money on worthless treatments which are so frequently advertised to the public.
Nonprescription pain medication: You may choose from Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, or common aspirin to relieve most simple pain. Taken in the recommended dosage, Tylenol, which is effective and has less potential side effects, would be my first choice.
Generic drugs: With only a very few exceptions, generic drugs are equal in almost all aspects to the equivalent brand name drug and are much less expensive.
Diverticulitis: If you have worsening pain in the left lower abdomen, or no improvement of such pain for a few days, seek medical help immediately.
Have a very happy and healthy New Year!
- Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., is an urgent-care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in Scotts Valley. Readers can view his previous columns on his website, valleydoctor.wordpress.com, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information in this column is not intended to replace advice from your own health care professional. For any medical concern, consult your own doctor.