DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband has had a cough that seems to have lasted forever. He saw several doctors. Each gave him a different diagnosis and different treatment. None worked. The last doctor believed he had whooping cough and tested him for it. He did have it. The doctor said the cough would go away. He put him on antibiotics, but he said they wouldn’t shorten the cough. Why did he give them to him? Isn’t whooping cough a thing of the past, and wasn’t it a children’s disease? — K.P.
ANSWER: Whooping cough — pertussis is the medical name — used to be a frequent childhood illness. It is highly communicable, and in some infants, it proves to be fatal. The vaccine practically eliminated it. Adults get it, too, even if they were vaccinated in childhood. The vaccine loses its power in five to 10 years. Booster shots are necessary to shield people from the bacterium that causes the illness.
The typical course of whooping cough in a youngster consists of a week where the child appears to have cold symptoms. Then the child experiences explosions of a hacking cough that can be so violent that the child vomits after coughing. When the cough calms and the child takes a deep breath in, a high-pitched whooping sound is heard. The cough disappears gradually in a month. When treated early with the antibiotics erythromycin or azithromycin, the course of the infection is shortened.
Adult whooping cough is different. No whooping sounds are made. Adults cough and cough, and may do so for months. They are usually seen far too late for antibiotics to do any good. However, the antibiotics are prescribed to stop the spread of the whooping cough bacterium.
Whooping cough is making a resurgence and spreading across the country. Some infants have died from it. One reason is that many parents have opted to not have their children immunized out of fear of vaccine complications. Vaccines have been one of medicine’s greatest achievements in prevention of diseases. Fear of them is unsound and dangerous.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: On seven occasions, I have had severe pain in my right big toe. It hurts so bad that I feel like going to the emergency room, but I feel stupid about going for toe pain. My uncle has gout and diabetes. Can you have gout without having diabetes? What should I do? — J.P.
ANSWER: At your next attack, you should go to a doctor immediately. You can have gout without having diabetes. They’re not related.
The pain of gout is severe. You are not the least bit stupid for seeking relief from it. The attacks you have sound like gout. You’ve had seven attacks; you’re likely to have more. You can obtain effective medicine to stop them.
The pamphlet on gout explains what gout is and how it is treated. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 302W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 3283-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I don’t remember you addressing this subject, so I thought I would write. In 1997, I had a mild heart attack and went on medicines. Six months later I had another mild incident that led me to angioplasty. Ever since, I have been eating well, exercising and taking all my meds. My cardiologist says I have great collaterals. I have sprouted new vessels for my heart. I thought I should have some kind of intervention, but the doctor says no. Can you discuss autogenesis? Am I related to a starfish? — R.S.
ANSWER: You’re the first writer ever to use the word “autogenesis.” If a starfish loses an arm, it grows another — autogenesis. Humans have the same ability when it comes to blood vessels. They can grow new ones, and do so in many instances. Heart-attack victims often can sprout new arteries. It’s a long process. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen to all people. Count yourself lucky.
The booklet on CAD — coronary artery disease — discusses how vessels become plugged and how they are treated. To order a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I looked in the mirror this morning and couldn’t believe what I saw. My right eye was bright red. It looked like someone had punched me. When my husband saw it, he asked if he had hit me while he was asleep. He didn’t.
It doesn’t hurt. My vision is perfect. My eye looks frightful. Do I need to see a doctor? — Y.T.
ANSWER: Your question is asked repeatedly. My long-distance guess is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The conjunctiva is a cellophane-like covering of the eye. Beneath it is a network of invisible blood vessels. When one of those delicate vessels breaks, blood covers that part of the eye.
Coughing, sneezing or straining causes the breakage. Sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. The eye looks awful, but no real harm is done. The blood is absorbed in about a week. You can hurry it up by putting warm compresses over the closed eye.
You need to see a doctor if the eye begins to pain you, if the blood stays for longer than a week or if it happens time and again.
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