Q. I have a friend who is undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. I was wondering how this works. Doesn’t the radiation burn everything it touches?
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their genetic material. This process prevents the cells from growing. Radiation attacks all cells in a targeted area, but most healthy cells recover when treatment ends.
Q. Are there different kinds of angina?
Yes. There is stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina.
Angina, or angina pectoris, is the medical term for chest pain or discomfort usually caused by coronary artery disease.
Angina (pronounced an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) hits when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. This usually happens when there is a narrowing or blockage in one or more of the vessels that supply blood to the heart.
Angina can come from exertion. It may make you sweat or lose your breath. The pain can strike your arm or neck, too.
Q. I am petrified of spiders. Is my fear justified? Are they dangerous or just creepy?
Spiders are not aggressive. They bite you only in self-defense. Most bites by spiders are harmless. However, there are dangerous spiders. Spider bites are responsible for fewer than three deaths a year in the United States.
Spider bites have caused people to have limbs amputated. These victims refused to get medical remedies early and suffered from large wounds that became infected.
Q. I was racing down the cellar stairs a few days ago when I slipped and fell on my tailbone. I’ve had pain ever since. What should I do about it?
The coccyx (tailbone) is made up of three to five vertebrae at the lower end of the spine. Most people have a coccyx of four of these spinal bones. The coccyx functions as an attachment site for muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Coccyx comes from the Greek word for cuckoo. The coccyx’s shape is like the beak of a cuckoo. The human coccyx is considered a vestige of what was once a tail.
Q. What are the options for treating prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men in the United States.
Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.
There are many options for treating prostate cancer:
Observation. If the cancer is growing slowly, you may decide to wait and watch.
Hormone therapy. This stops cancer cells from growing.
Q. A friend of mine has Meniere’s disease. What is it exactly?
Meniere’s disease is an inner-ear disorder that produces a group of symptoms including vertigo, a spinning sensation that can lead to nausea and vomiting. Meniere’s usually occurs in only one ear.
The disease was named after French physician Prosper Ménière, who first described it in 1861. Meniere’s main symptoms are:
Attacks of vertigo without warning that last 20 minutes to more than two hours.
Permanent hearing loss that is suffered by most people with Meniere’s.
Q. I’m 68-years-old and I want to know how much Vitamin D you need to be healthy.
The Office of Dietary Supplements in the National Institutes of Health recommends the following daily dietary allowances: 400 IU for children under one year; 600 IU for everyone 1-70 years old, and 800 IU for everyone more than 70-years-old.
Q. What are the most common symptoms that you’re having a stroke?
The most common stroke symptoms include: sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body; trouble talking or understanding; sudden blurred, double or decreased vision; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; a sudden headache with a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness; confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.
Q. I get the winter blues every year. I was wondering how many people suffer the way I do.
The medical term for winter depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms usually begin in late fall or early winter and go away by summer. A less common type of depression occurs in the summer. SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and a lack of sunlight in winter.
Q. My toe nails and leg hair don’t seem to be growing as fast as they used to. Is this age-related or is it something else?
It could be caused by something harmless, but it is possible that it is a little-known symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If I were you, I’d go to a doctor for a check-up.
PAD usually affects legs, but also can affect blood vessels to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. Your chances of getting PAD increase with age. About one in five over 65 has PAD.