Aids, Chest Pains, etc.

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Could one get AIDS (HIV infection) from holding hands?

Experts say that HIV infection is not transmitted by holding hands or (intact) skin to skin contact, but mucous membrane contact with blood or body fluids of someone infected with HIV, unprotected sexual intercourse with AIDS victim can definitely transmit this deadly disease. The best behavior is to avoid partners that are at high risk of having HIV, but if this is not possible, use condom. One must be cautious to make sure the condom is durable, intact and not have a hole in it. One could get the HIV infection even after only one, yes just one, sexual encounter. Remember, having AIDS is like having a death sentence hanging over your head.

I am a 48-year-old businessman and have chest pains. Is this something to worry about?

Chest pains could be due to a variety of causes, not necessarily coronary heart disease. However, if it happens fairly regularly, especially on exertion, and/or if you have a family history of heart disease, it is prudent for you to have a medical check-up and at least a Stress Test. Chest pains should never be ignored. In the United States, Chest Pain Clinics have sprouted in medical centers all over the country, if only to underscore the seriousness with which chest pains are considered. And this pays dividends in the form of early detection and lowering the mortality rate from coronary heart disease. If prevention has been neglected, early diagnosis is the next best thing to a better survival in almost all medical conditions.

I get some burning sensation and pain when I urinate a couple of days after I have sex with my husband. What's wrong?

If you were just married, it would be what is popularly known as "honeymoon cystitis," where bladder infection had developed following foreplay and sex. Obviously, physical trauma and hygiene play a big role in this situation. This type of infection is common, even among those women, and rarely in men also, who have been married for sometime, with or without children. This is the reason why we recommend for partners to take a shower or a bath, wash their hands thoroughly, etc., before (and after) sex, and be reasonably gentle and not violent during the act. If the symptoms persist for more than a day, consult your physicians, who will evaluate your condition and most likely prescribe the appropriate antibiotics for your urinary infection. Be careful because repeated infection could lead to more serious complications.

My fever and sorethroat subsided after 3 days of antibiotics, do I have to finish all my antibiotics?

Physicians prescribe specific antibiotics for specific infection (bacteria). From clinical research done by the drug companies on each antibiotic they produce, specific recommendation for the standard dosage and the length of treatment is derived and made to effect a "cure." It is advisable for you to finish the full course of antibiotic that your physician has prescribed for you, otherwise the bacteria may not be fully killed and the infection might recur after a few days.

Why is salt bad for people with high blood pressure?

Table salt, patis, soy sauce, bagoong, or anything salty, when ingested, increases the sodium content in our body. This causes fluid retention (sodium attracts water), through various mechanisms in our body, and increases our blood/fluid volume. If you increase the volume in a system that already has a high pressure, it is easy to understand why the pressure gets up higher. The better choice for patients with hypertension is to use spices, instead of table salt, etc., (in cooking) to make food taste better. Staying away from salt and salty food will lead to a better controlled (treated) high blood pressure, and reduces the chances of developing complications like stroke.

I have a groin hernia for years. Do I need surgery?

This depends on the size and whether you have symptoms or not. Some hernias do not need surgical repair at all. Other hernias could lead to trapping of a part of your gut through the hernia hole (ring) and cause bowel obstruction or even gangrene, which are serious conditions. We recommend that you get a medical checkup to see whether you need anything done at all.

Can annual x-rays cause cancer?

No, an annual chest x-ray will not cause cancer. The dose of radiation that one gets with a chest x-ray is so minimal, about 30 millirems, which is even less than the radiation exposure one gets from travelling by air (where you will be nearer the sun) for a 4-hours flight, say to another Asian country. The cut-off safety limit per year is 5000 millirems, which would be equivalent to about 166 chest x-ray exposures. A chest x-ray once a year, or even 20 such radiation exposures in a year, is safe. The basic rule is, of course, the lesser radiation the better, but if it medically necessary, chest x-ray or other x-rays should be performed without worry.

How does one get sore eyes?

Sore eyes (conjunctivitis) is an acute inflammation of the inner lining of the upper and lower eyelids, caused by adenoviruses, bacteria or allergy. They eyes becomes painful, burning, reddened and sticky with secretions. Conjunctival irritation with dust, smoke, wind and other air pollutants may be associated, or accompanying the presence of a common cold or measles. Avoidance of close contact with someone with sore eyes or touching any items touched by the patient, and maintaining good hygiene (washing hands often after contact) are most essential to minimize the chances of getting infected.

I was diagnosed to have amebic diarrhea. How did I catch it?

Amebiasis is disease caused by a protozoa, Entamoeba histolytica. It is usually asymptomatic but diarrhea, mild to severe, may occur. This disease is caused by poor hygiene where the food or water consumed is contaminated by human feces, either by unsanitary handling or direct contamination. Proper hand washing is most important. Since it tends to recur, stools should be re-examined one month, three months and six months after a full course of treatment. Serious complications of amebiasis could affect the liver, the brain, the lungs and other organs. If in doubt, consult your physician.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.