Questions from our Readers

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Is drinking wine bad for diabetics?

Unless the patient has another medical condition where wine is contraindicated, wine in itself (a glass with dinner) is not bad for patients with diabetes. The only caution a diabetic has to remember is the extra high calories wine adds to the diabetic diet of these patients. The additional calories from the wine must be subtracted from the total calories the diabetic patient is prescribed to take per meal or per day. This should be discussed by the patient with the physician managing the diabetes.

Is Viagra useful for women as it is for men?

Preliminary reports from research studies show that Viagra (Sildenafil) is as effective for the females as it is for the males. The action of the drug is to open up the blood vessels in the clitoris in females (in the penis in males), allowing it to fill up and engorge with blood, which fullness heightens the sexual stimulation in females and sustained erection in men. The studies are still ongoing.

Does drinking coffee or smoking cause heart irregularity?

Coffee and cigarettes have been known to cause cardiac arrythmia (heartbeat irregularity), tachycardia (fast heartbeat, higher than 100), atrial fibrillation (skipped beats) and palpitation (heart pounding) among some people. For those with hypertension (high blood pressure), coffee and cigarettes can also aggravate the high blood pressure. Since the caffeine in coffee is the culprit, decaffeinated coffee does not have this bad side effect.

Is it true that bacteria causes stomach ulcers?

Yes, a very common cause of peptic ulcer (stomach ulcer) is a bacteria called H. Pylori. In the past, it was thought that peptic ulcers were caused by high acids in the stomach. The scientist who originally reported his thesis that a bacteria (H. Pylori) was the cause of peptic ulcer was ridiculed by the medical community for his "preposterous assertion" that these ulcers were caused by an infection due to this bacteria. It has always been accepted that the etiology of peptic ulcers was chemical in nature (hyperacidity due to stress, spicy food, alcohol, etc). Since that new revolutionary report came out, independent investigators all over the world have confirmed beyond doubt that, indeed, peptic ulcers are caused by a bacteria, the H. Pylori bug. This, obviously altered, and dramatically improved, the treatment of peptic ulcers, using antibiotics in proven cases of H. Pylori, instead of antacids.

Is Liposuction effective, safe, and lasting?

Liposuction (the removal of fatty tissues from the body by pressure withdrawal ---"hinihigup") is effective in removing fatty tissues, just as cutting the out using a surgeon's scalpel would. But it is not effective as far as the avowed (advertised) goal of the procedure is concerned. The fats that are sucked out grow back in no time. More concerning is the fact that patients have died from fat embolism, etc. during or immediately after the liposuction. There is no excuse for these deaths, since the procedure in itself is very controversial at best and not scientifically proven to achieve the health objective it is supposed to accomplish. Our advise is for all of us to stay away from this costly and potentially deadly procedure. The best way to reduce the fats in our body is to eat fish, vegetables, fruits, and stay away from red meats, eggs, etc., and to exercise for at least half an hour at least 3 times a week, maintaining an acceptable weight. The new drug, Xenical, the subject of our previous column, may be considered under your doctor's advice and supervision.

Is snoring bad for our health?

Snoring has been popularly known to cause social or marital problems, with the spouses and roommates as its victims and complainants. In the United States, snoring could be a ground for divorce. For the snorer, this annoying condition leads to impaired and restless sleep, fatigue the following day, due to lack of oxygen. More importantly, sleep apnea (breath holding) usually occurs, where the sagging and flappy tissues (as one grows older) in the entry of air in our oro-pharynx (throat) come together and close the opening, thus blocking the air passage. While this is temporary and happens only less than a minute at a time (several times during the sleep), this is enough in some persons to suffer hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the blood) and even a heart attack. People who snore should consult their physician for a Sleep Test and appropriate treatment.

What is this new heart surgery in the US?

The surgery is called Off Pump Coronary Artery Bypass (OPCAB), which is done on a beating heart, without the use of the heart-lung machine. Coronary Bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack, by bypassing blocked heart arteries, is not new. It has been with us since 1967. But the conventional technique is doing this by arresting (stopping) the heart, with the patient connected to the heart-lung machine that provides the oxygenation of blood which is re-circulated to the patient to keep him/her alive, while the cardiac surgeon works on the non-beating heart. We have used this revolutionary OPCAB in our practice in the United States and we have introduced this technique at a heart center here in Cebu, for appropriately selected patients with coronary artery blockages. While the new technique is more demanding on the heart surgeons, it is medically most advantageous and physically easier for the patients. The heart patients need to satisfy certain medical criteria to qualify for this new procedure, since this is not suitable for all patients. Although a little more expensive because of the special surgical instruments and consumable supplies used for the procedure, OPCAB is the state-of-the-art technique and the wave of the future in terms of coronary bypass surgery.

What is Kissing Disease?

If there is such a thing as a fun-way to catch a non-fatal illness, it is by lips to lips kissing (or mouth to mouth resuscitation), causing Infectious Mononucleosis or Kissing Disease. The virus responsible for the disease is in the saliva of the infected partner and is transmitted by kissing. This condition, which is self-limiting, is most common among teenagers and younger people in general, especially those under a lot of stress and whose immune system is low from fatigue, lack of sleep, etc.

Is Ginseng a sex stimulant?

There are lots of products in the market today that claim to be "sex enhancer" or "sex aids," or aphrodisiacs, but todate only Sildenafil (Viagra) is proven to help in allowing men to maintain erection, and perhaps also an aid in women. But even Viagra is not an aphrodisiac and does not increase libido. There is no approved drug todate that could qualify as the "Libido Pill." Ginseng, from roots found in the Orient and some in North America and Europe, has been known to man and has been used for centuries for its good effect on creating a sense of well-being in man. It is an antioxidant and also claimed to prevent blood clots and to be good for the circulation. It is also supposed to be good for the heart and the body as a whole, and with "no" bad effects, if taken as directed. However, unlike western medications, Ginseng does not carry the official seal of approval of the US Food and Drug Administration, although used by tens of millions of people around the world, including physicians and nurses.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.