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Frequently Asked Questions


Acid Reflux

I have heart burn or acid reflux, but I do not like taking pills. What else can I do to help this problem besides taking a pill?


Chest Pain

I experience chest discomfort when I exert myself too much, but I would not call it chest pain. Besides, it goes away when I rest. Should I be concerned?


Cramps

I have been experiencing leg cramps. What could be causing this?


Dizziness

I have been getting dizzy recently. What could be causing it?


Lyme Disease

I just removed a deer tick from my skin. Isn't there a blood test that will tell me if I have Lyme disease?


Pneumonia Vaccine

I have already had a pneumonia shot once; do I need a second dose?


Prostate

I was told my prostate was enlarged a few years ago, but I had no symptoms. Now, I need to urinate 3 or 4 times nightly. I don't want surgery, so I'm afraid to tell my doctor. What can I do?


Quitting Smoking

I have tried to quit smoking in the past, but I was only successful for a short period of time. Is there any hope for me? Is there a pill I can take?


Sleeping Problems

I am having sleeping problems, but I really do not want to take a sleeping pill. Are there any other options?


Sore Throat

I have a sore throat. Do I need antibiotics for strep throat?


Vaginal Bleeding

I went through menopause ten years ago. Recently, I have started spotting again. Should I be concerned about this?


Vitamins & Supplements

I take many vitamins and herbal supplements. Should I share this information with my physician?


Whooping Cough Vaccine

Is there a new whooping cough vaccine for adults?


Acid Reflux

I have heart burn or acid reflux, but I do not like taking pills. What else can I do to help this problem besides taking a pill?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

There are a number of things that you can do to help manage your acid reflux problem. These include:

  • Elevate the head of your bed with blocks of wood or a foam wedge under your mattress.  
  • Avoidance of fatty foods, chocolate and peppermint.
  • Avoidance of acidic foods like cola, red wine, tomato products and orange juice.
  • Refrain from excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Stop smoking.  
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.

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Chest Pain

I experience chest discomfort when I exert myself too much, but I would not call it chest pain. Besides, it goes away when I rest. Should I be concerned?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

Chest discomfort which is worsened with exertion and improves with rest is very concerning.

 

 

These symptoms are consistent with a condition called angina, and could mean that there are one or more blockages in the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle, putting you at high risk of a heart attack.

 

 

Keep in mind that many people with angina or who are actually having a heart attack do not describe chest pain. Instead, they describe the discomfort as tightness, squeezing, heaviness, heart burn, aching, or like someone sitting on their chest.

 

 

You should see your doctor right away, as you likely require some diagnostic testing.

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Cramps

I have been experiencing leg cramps. What could be causing this?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

Leg cramps can be associated with structural disorders or leg positioning.

 

 

They can also be caused by fluid depletion, disturbances of electrolytes and magnesium levels, as well as some neurologic disorders, medication side effects and anemia.

 

 

Consult your physician if you continue to have leg cramps.

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Dizziness

I have been getting dizzy recently. What could be causing it?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

Dizziness can have many causes, depending whether one has

  • Vertigo (spinning/whirling sensation)
  • Presyncope (nearly passing out)
  • Disequilibrium.

 

It can be caused by diagnoses ranging from a benign condition of inner ear to cardiovascular and neurologic disorders. A thorough examination by your physician should be the first step in finding the cause of your symptoms.

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Lyme Disease

I just removed a deer tick from my skin. Isn't there a blood test that will tell me if I have Lyme disease?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

Although there is a blood test for Lyme disease, it is often not very helpful because the test is usually negative early in the course of the disease. The diagnosis of early Lyme disease is best made by seeing your doctor.

 

 

The presence of a characteristic rash in a person who lives in an area where Lyme disease is common is usually enough to make the diagnosis. A positive blood test is not required for the diagnosis of Lyme disease.

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Pneumonia Vaccine

I have already had a pneumonia shot once; do I need a second dose?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

Current guidelines recommend a second pneumococcal vaccine for persons who are age 65 years or older and were previously vaccinated before age 65 if 5 years has elapsed since their first dose.

 

Also, persons whose medical diagnoses puts them at risk of rapid decline of immunity, such as patients on dialysis or infected with HIV or receiving chemotherapy, need to receive a second dose.

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Prostate

I was told my prostate was enlarged a few years ago, but I had no symptoms. Now, I need to urinate 3 or 4 times nightly. I don't want surgery, so I'm afraid to tell my doctor. What can I do?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

I would encourage you to discuss your urinary frequency problem with your physician, as there are several, non-surgical ways to help control your symptoms. Sometimes, just taking a single pill once a day can significantly reduce your symptoms

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Quitting Smoking

I have tried to quit smoking in the past, but I was only successful for a short period of time. Is there any hope for me? Is there a pill I can take?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

Most people who have successfully quit smoking have actually tried and failed multiple times in the past before they actually successfully quit. So do not give up hope!

 

 

If you are truly motivated to quit, there are prescription medications that can assist you in quitting. Ask you doctor if one of these medications might be helpful for you.

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Sleeping Problems

I am having sleeping problems, but I really do not want to take a sleeping pill. Are there any other options?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

Following good sleep hygiene is always a good place to start when you are having sleeping problems.

 

Follow these simple rules, and you may notice improvement in your sleeping difficulties:

  • Sleep only when sleepy.
  • Do not take naps.
  • Get up and go to bed the same time everyday.
  • No exercise at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Only use your bed for sleeping.
  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable.

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Sore Throat

I have a sore throat. Do I need antibiotics for strep throat?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

Group A. Streptococcus (strep) is only the cause of pharyngitis (inflammation of throat) in approximately 10% of adults who seek medical care for sore throat.

 

 

The major causes are viruses including influenza and EBV (the virus causing mononucleosis), and no antibiotic therapy is indicated for a viral sore throat.

 

 

If you have white spots on your tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and fever, but no cough, the chance of strep throat is about 50%.

 

 

Your physician can perform a test for strep to make a definite diagnosis 

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Vaginal Bleeding

I went through menopause ten years ago. Recently, I have started spotting again. Should I be concerned about this?

ALT  Dr. Scott Barnett says:

 

 

In general, vaginal bleeding that occurs after menopause is never normal and should be evaluated immediately.

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Vitamins & Supplements

I take many vitamins and herbal supplements. Should I share this information with my physician?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

Yes! Many herbs have ingredients that affect the liver enzyme systems and impact levels of prescribed medications as well as causing dangerous drug interactions.

 

 

Some vitamins interact with a drug's function (such as Coumadin's) rendering them less effective.

 

 

Also, taking multiple supplements may lead to overdosing and risk of toxicity.

 

 

Always inform your physician of all nonprescribed supplements that you are taking to help you make an informed and safe decision regarding their use.

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Whooping Cough Vaccine

Is there a new whooping cough vaccine for adults?

ALT  Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari says:

 

 

 

In the recent years there has been a steady increase in cases of whooping cough (pertussis). Immunity to pertussis, whether from childhood immunization or natural infection, is not long lasting.

 

 

In June of 2005, FDA approved a new vaccine (Tdap) which contains diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines combined in one.

 

 

Persons ages 11-64 are recommended to receive a one time Tdap vaccine instead of the traditional tetanus (Td) booster. This should be given 5 years after last Td vaccine for adolescents (10 years for adults).

 

 

Persons who will be exposed to infants can be immunized with the new vaccine 2 years after their last Td. 

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