DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I had a little trouble breathing, so I saw my doctor, who ordered a chest X-ray. It showed fluid on the right lung. The doctor said he would have to do more tests to find out why the fluid appeared. Could you guess for me what those tests might be? What brought this on? — R.H.
ANSWER: A double-ply covering, called the pleura, encases each lung. A small space between the two leaves of pleura allows the lung to inflate and deflate effortlessly. The fluid you have is in the pleural space. The condition is a pleural effusion. The fluid is not actually in lung tissue.
Infections, illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, blood clots in the lungs, liver cirrhosis and chest trauma are some of the causes of pleural effusions. Cancer is another cause.
Shortness of breath, chest discomfort and cough are some of the things that a pleural effusion engenders. Some people with an effusion have no symptoms at all. The fluid is discovered when a person has a chest X-ray, as was the case with you.
The doctor is most probably planning to obtain a specimen of the fluid from the pleura. It’s not a diffi- cult procedure. Analysis of the fluid provides information that determines what caused it. That information also allows the doctor to determine a treatment plan and provide you with a prognosis of what to expect.
I’d like to speculate further for you, but I can’t. I need more information too.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I was given Avodart to treat an enlarged prostate gland. During the six months of taking it, I went from a fully functioning man with a strong libido to 99 percent impotence and no interest in physical intimacy.
My physician does not seem to care. What kind of treatment should I seek? — H.L
ANSWER: Avodart (dutasteride) is a medicine that can shrink an enlarged prostate gland. Achieving that allows free passage of urine. Impotence and decreased desire for sex are its side effects for a small number of users. Other drugs, without these side effects, exist. Furthermore, a number of office procedures can open the drainage canal of the bladder. You return home after the procedure.
You should see a urologist immediately.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Two weeks ago, I contracted a cold. It’s gone, except for a troublesome cough, which is worse at night. I read in an issue of AARP Bulletin that a spoonful of honey at bedtime often gives better results than cough medicines. I tried it. The results were nothing less than miraculous. What do you say about this remedy? — F.B.
ANSWER: I say stick with it. Honey has been used for many years to suppress coughing. It’s even given to babies older than one year.
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©2013 North America Synd.