DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 47, and my doctor tells me I have asthma. Is that possible? I thought it was a children’s disease. One of the medicines the doctor put me on is a cortisone-type inhaler. This has me scared silly. I don’t want to stay on a cortisone medicine for life. I have heard it does too many bad things. What do you have to say about this? — M.L.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 34 and play in an adult men’s hockey league. Our season is over, but I have a groin pull. At least, that’s what I’ve been told I have. What is that? It’s getting better, but I wonder how long it takes to heal. Should I see a doctor? — R.K.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 78-year-old, pretty healthy female. Every day last week, I woke early in the morning with blood running down my throat and out of my nose. I went to the ER twice. Once, the doctor cauterized my nose, and the next time he tested me for things like anemia and blood-clotting disorders. All were normal. I saw an ENT doctor, and he didn’t say too much, but he also cauterized my nose. Through all this, my blood pressure has remained normal.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would appreciate information on postpolio syndrome. A relative had polio at 5 years of age. He is now 81 and has severe weakness in the leg that had polio. Would physical therapy help? — A.F. A: Many people alive today were born after the polio vaccine became a routine immunization. Those people have no idea of the fear polio inspired. They never had to face it. However, hundreds of thousands of polio victims are still alive in Canada and the United States. Many of them made a partial or nearly full recovery from the paralysis they suffered from polio. A sizable number of these people are now experiencing a second encounter with polio — postpolio syndrome.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter is devoted to gymnastics. She’s been training since she was 5. She is now 13 and slightly small for her age. She has not yet had a menstrual period. She practices 20 hours a week. Do you think this is too much, and could it be the reason she hasn’t had a period? — M.S.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: When does a cold become an ear infection or sinus infection, and how can one tell? My husband and I have disagreements about when to go to the doctor. He says one should never go to the doctor for a cold because it is a viral infection and nothing can be done. I agree. But how long does a cold last, and how do we know when it might be complicated by a bacterial infection? I have kids, 5 months and 4 years. I don’t want them to get antibiotics unnecessarily, but my school-age daughter gets a cold a month. — C.N. A: Colds are viral infections, and the rhinoviruses — of which there are more than 100 strains — are the ones most often implicated as a cause of colds. Antibiotics do nothing for viral infections
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 47-year-old woman who has been physically active for the past 28 years. I walk, run, cycle and use an elliptical machine. Last summer I suffered with plantar fasciitis, and it took six months to recover from. Now the plantar fasciitis is back. It’s worse after sitting for some time, and the tops of my feet hurt. What can I do? — D.J.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a high-school senior and play on our school’s girls’ varsity basketball team. It’s my life, and I would like to play college basketball. I twisted my knee and tore my anterior cruciate ligament. My knee swelled really bad.
Much is written about breast cancer, but little is written about uterine cancer. I just had my uterus removed because of it. I have not been given chemo or radiation. Do I need either? I am 62. — C.B.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 33-year-old, unmarried woman with an embarrassing problem — a mustache. I have to shave every other day. I told a friend, and she says shaving makes it worse: It will grow back faster and thicker. Is there a solution other than shaving? — F.L.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have had yearly physical exams since I was 50, and every year I have been told my blood pressure was “beautiful.”
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My wife has type 2 diabetes and takes oral medicine for it. I was just told I have type 1. How is that possible? Isn’t type 1 something kids get? I am 52. How did this happen? I have to take insulin. Is there any chance I could take pills someday? — R.M.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have some questions about osteoporosis and how it’s detected and treated. I will turn 65 in three months. My doctor says I should be screened for osteoporosis then. Is that standard practice? I don’t have any symptoms. How is one screened? What’s the best drug to take for it? Do you take it for life? — M.C. A: Osteoporosis is a weakening of bones. They become porous and fragile. Fractures of the hip and backbones are common. The bones have lost their strength because they’ve lost most of their calcium. Partly this is from aging, and partly it’s from the diminished production of estrogen that comes with menopause.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In the past I used to do aerobic exercise, which caused me to perspire a lot. I knew I was working hard. Now I walk briskly, but I no longer get my heart rate up very high. I don’t seem to be in the “zone.”
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: During my last physical, the doctor spent an awfully long time listening to my heart.