Dr. Joshua Wynne
Q. In prior columns, you've discussed the increase in cases of diabetes and its relationship to the obesity epidemic. But you've also emphasized that treatment of diabetes works. So what's the bottom line regarding diabetes—are things getting better or worse?
Q. There has been a lot of news coverage of the problem of lead in the drinking water in Michigan. What are lead's health effects? A. Childhood exposure to lead found in the pipes supplying drinking water in Flint, Mich., but also in paint, solder and gasoline (from which lead can be absorbed from motor vehicle emissions) can have important and recognizable negative effects on brain development as children grow into adulthood.
Q. I'm frustrated with my doctor. When I go to see him with a concern, I can barely tell him what I'm worried about before he interrupts me. Why don't you doctors just listen? A. Oops! I hope you're not talking about me! But you are quite right — one classic study recorded patient-physician clinic encounters and found that the doctor interrupted the patient more often than not as the patient was stating their chief complaint. In that study, doctors waited only 18 seconds on average before interrupting the patient.
Q. My young child needs open-heart surgery soon. I'm worried enough about the surgery itself, but what about the anesthesia? Should I be concerned about long-term effects? A. The medical profession has been concerned about the possible toxicity of anesthetic agents — those used to put a young child to sleep so an operation or procedure can be performed — for a long time.
Q. Many of my friends have diabetes, and I was wondering if there is any new treatment for it.
Q. What screening tests are available to look for hardening of the arteries in a person like me who has no symptoms? A. Let's start with what we mean by "hardening of the arteries." This occurs as we age when cholesterol and similar substances get deposited in the walls of blood vessels (the arteries) in the body. Calcium, the mineral in bone, also gets deposited, and the combination of the two leads to thickening and stiffening of the arteries — that is, hardening.
Q. I thought strokes occurred mainly in older people; especially senior citizens. But I've heard more and more about strokes occurring in younger folks. What's the story? A. You are correct that most strokes occur in older people but, fortunately, their risk of stroke actually has been decreasing over the past few decades.
Q. I need to have heart bypass surgery. My cardiac surgeon mentioned the procedure could be done "on-pump" or "off-pump." What does that mean, and does it make a difference?
Q. I've noticed that my hand shakes when I'm drinking from my coffee mug. I was concerned about Parkinson's disease, but my doctor said I have an essential tremor. How can she be so sure, and what is essential tremor by the way?
Q. Recently I developed severe pain in my belly and I turned out to have pancreatitis. Just what is it, what causes it, and what can I do to prevent a recurrence? I don't want to go through that kind of pain again.