Questions from Readers

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I want to lose weight by taking Orlistat. Any side effects?

Xenical (generic name: Orlistat) is used to help obese people lose weight, where dieting and exercise have failed. This oral capsule effectively blocks the absorption of fats in the intestines, and the undigested fats are eliminated in the bowel movement. If properly used, following an unsuccessful one month of honest-to-goodness weight reducing diet and daily physical exercise, this is an excellent drug. Side effects include increased in daily bowel movements and urges to defecate, oily discharge or spotting from rectum, oily stools with undigested fats, flatulence, and sometimes some people develop loose fatty stools. These side-effects are usually seen the first weeks of treatment and are temporary, as long as the person stay away from red meats and fatty foods. We recommend safe dieting by cutting down on the food intake by 50 % or less, and daily physical exercises for at least a month, until the scale shows progressive weekly reduction in weight. Xenical could be resorted to by the prescribing physician when the natural strategy fails.

I heard that you do heart bypass on a beating heart. Is this really true?

Yes, it is true. The general description of this heart surgery is called Off Pump Coronary Artery Bypass (OPCAB), a minimally invasive technique. It is a highly technical matter but to put it simply, we use strategically placed sutures and a special heart stabilizer to minimize the movement of the part of the heart where we are doing the coronary bypass on. This makes it possible for us to perform the heart bypass without using the heart lung machine among those who are deemed candidates for this state-of-the-art cutting-edge technology in cardiac surgery.

Are cell phones a health hazard?

They could be, depending on how one uses them. Analog phones which transmit continuous radiofrequency signals (except during dialing or ringing) were found to be safer than the newer digital phones which generate sharp voltage signals. The question whether these RF signals contribute to brain cancer formation is not a settled medical issue as yet, one way or the other. But the biggest proven risk posed by cell phones today is using one while driving. A large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the person who uses a cell phone while driving is 400% more prone to automobile crashes. I know of a young lady patient in Cebu who had an accident because she was using the cell phone while driving. This potentially fatal distraction has claimed the lives of thousands of drivers since 1977. This is no less criminal (after an accident) than drunk driving, both of which could cost lives. Brazil, Israel, Spain, Australia have passed laws making it illegal to use the cell phone while driving. Let us hope our legislators will debate the issue in Congress and come up with a good law to safeguard not only the driver using the cell phone but the pedestrians and other passengers in all cars involved, whose lives could be snapped out just like that.

I am 69 and found Viagra to be very effective, but I was unable to ejaculate. Did the pill cause this?

No, inability to ejaculate is not caused by Viagra. Viagra (Sildenafil) is a most potent drug against Erectile Dysfunction in men. It is both very effective and safe, when properly used under a physician's supervision. Your age and other factors or conditions in your body must have led to this experience of yours. If you had prostate surgery in the past, what happened could have been retrograde ejaculation, where the sperm went into the urinary bladder, instead of out the normal way. I suggest you consult a Urologist.

Is taking daily bath or shower good for our body?

Cleanliness is next to Godliness, we were all taught in school. However, for those who develop abnormally dry and scaly skin following daily bath or shower, inspite the use of skin lotion, we recommend to lessen the frequency and to refrain from using water that is warm. Some people have very sensitive skin, especially during cold weather (like winter in the United States, etc), to the point that the natural oil our skin produces is depleted fast even with a quick shower. If the skin tolerates it, taking daily shower or bath is a healthy habit. And so is using skin lotion or even unscented mineral oil, after the shower or bath. Bath oil is also a good aid.

I have not been eating too much and yet I am still overweight. What can I do?

First, let me say that during the two World Wars, Vietnam, Korean and other wars, all prisoners of war lost weight, regardless of genetic predisposition, etc., just to point out the fact that when food intake is reduced, any person will lose weight, no exception! If you are still overweight or gaining more weight, that only means that you are still eating too much. Your energy (food) intake is evidently much higher than your energy output (physical exercises). So, you are putting in more calories than your body is burning off. The only exception here is if you have heart failure or other medical conditions that cause water retention in your body. Since you said you were otherwise healthy and feeling fine, then I must deduce that you have been less than candid with yourself and with me. Part of a successful strategy in weight reduction is mental honesty and acceptance of the fact that eating is the reason why we gain weight. Will power and determination are better than any pills I know of, and cheaper too. Ask your physician for a weight reduction regimen that he could tailor to suit your individual situation.

How can I eliminate bad breath?

There are various causes of Halitosis (bad breath). One of the most common is poor dental or oral hygiene. Brushing and dental flossing (and using mouthwash) regularly are two basic essentials in maintaining good oral hygiene, because food caught in between our teeth (even if they are not bagoong, garlic, patis or danggit), decay, and putrefaction takes place, giving the mouth bad breath or the odor of old rotten meat. Infected tonsils or any portion of the oro-pharynx (throat) can also lead to bad breath until the infection is cured. On top of the basic, chewing gum helps but never a substitute for good oral hygiene. Anti-bad breath capsules in the market have not been proven to work. Visiting your dentist for dental prophylaxis every 3 to 6 months is a healthy habit that can definitely help minimize bad breath.

Why are mothers discharged from the hospital so soon after delivery?

There is a valid medical reason why mothers are sent home from the maternity ward as early as one or two days after delivery. More than five decades ago, women were kept in the hospital a week to 10 days after they deliver their babies. Because of the prolonged best rest and inactivity, many developed Deep Venous Thrombosis (blood clots in the pelvis and legs) and many died as a result of Pulmonary Embolus (where the blood clot in the leg or pelvis traveled to the lungs and blocked the Pulmonary Arteries to the lungs). It is best, after childbirth, or following any surgery, for the patient to get up and be as reasonably active as possible to prevent blood clots and also pneumonia. Activity for the mind and body is always healthy

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.