DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My grandchildren have warts on their hands. What causes them? What can be done for them? We are applying a wart remover, and it works after some time. Someone told me they are caused by a vitamin deficiency. What is your opinion? — E.P.
ANSWER: This isn’t my opinion; it’s a fact: Viruses cause warts, specifically the large family of HPV viruses — human papillomaviruses.
Wart removers do work for many people, and they’re available in drugstores without a prescription. Most of them contain salicylic acid. Don’t cringe when you see the word “acid.” These products don’t burn, and they do take time to work. Follow the directions carefully.
Another popular remedy is duct tape, the kind of tape you find in hardware stores. Cover the wart or warts with the tape for six days. Then remove the tape and soak the warts in water, after which you rub them gently with an emery board or pumice stone, both of which also are found in drugstores. Repeat the cycle until the warts go away. That can take two months.
There is another acceptable treatment for warts: Ignore them. They usually disappear on their own, but it can take some time for that happy event to occur.
The family doctor or a dermatologist can remove warts by freezing them or drying them with an electric current.
I am not talking about genital warts. That’s another topic. They, too, are caused by papillomaviruses, but their treatment is different.
The genital wart story is told in full in the booklet on that topic and on herpes genital infections. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1202W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 328536475. 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: My liver enzymes are elevated. My AST is 54, and my ALT is 53. How bad is this? Could it be cancer? — S.H.
ANSWER: All body cells have enzymes. They’re proteins that keep cell chemistry perking along at the right speed. If an organ has enzymes that are found only in that organ, then a rise of the blood level of those enzymes indicates damage to the organ.
AST — aspartate aminotransferase — and ALT — alanine aminotransferase — are found mainly in the liver. Your elevation is not great. When the rise is three times the normal value, then eyebrows rise. All you have to do is follow your doctor’s directions for repeat tests. The rise might be only a transient thing.
This is not a sign of cancer.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This past summer, after a colonoscopy, my wife went into atrial fibrillation. This past month, a friend had colon surgery for cancer. Shortly after, he too had atrial fibrillation. Is there some relationship here? — A.I.
ANSWER: Perhaps the stress of both procedures brought on the atrial fibrillation. Stress — both physical and mental — can do it. This is the only relationship I can see.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475.
©2008 North America Synd.