DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This past winter I lost 50 pounds and am quite proud of myself. Now I have all sorts of ugly stretch marks. I thought I would look stunning on the beach. I probably will look stunning, but not for the reasons I thought I would. Can’t something be done about these things? — C.C.
ANSWER: Stretch marks are scars. Your former weight stretched the skin beyond its limits, and the skin tore. Scars formed where the tears occurred.
Time is one of the best treatments for them. They lighten up and blend in with the rest of the skin. How long that takes is unpredictable, but it happens.
Retin-A — an acne medicine — has been suggested as a treatment for stretch marks. I can’t tell you if it’s successful all the time or how much of the time.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a woman in her mid-40s with significant bone loss (osteopenia). I was completely unaware that bone loss can occur in premenopausal women. I was stunned by my poor bonedensity score. Why doesn’t the medical community inform the public that bone loss can be an issue for premenopausal women? — E.M.
ANSWER: Osteoporosis happens mainly to women after menopause, when there is a sudden and precipitous drop in their production of estrogen, the female hormone that works to preserve bone health. However, women attain their peak bone strength in their late 20s and early 30s. From that time on, bones begin to lose their calcium and become more fragile and prone to fracture. Osteoporosis can occur at younger ages. You don’t have osteoporosis. You have osteopenia. It’s a marker on the road to osteoporosis.
At young ages, girls should be on a program of building a bank deposit of calcium and strong bones by meeting the daily requirements for calcium and vitamin D, and by not doing things that lead to bone demineralization, like smoking. Daily exercise is another requirement for strong bones.
The booklet on osteoporosis explains the prevention and treatment of this debilitating disease. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1104W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. 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: I walk half an hour each morning. Lately, I have experienced chest pain, followed by gas and sometimes heartburn. The same thing happens when I shovel snow. I am 81 and do not take any medicines. I have had all the lung and heart tests without any problems showing up. What do you think this is? — F.O.
ANSWER: When you say “all the tests,” does that include a stress test, the test taken while you walk ever faster on a treadmill and an EKG is constantly taken? If not, you need one. In fact, even if you have had a stress test, go back to the doctor. Undiagnosed chest pain that comes with exertion makes me leery of heart disease. Don’t give up the pursuit of trying to find an answer.
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.
©2009 North America Synd.