DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a female in my 70s. When I was 12 years old, I, along with a younger brother and older sister, all had what our doctor called “yellow jaundice.” We all were very sick for about two weeks. It was very contagious and a good percentage of the schoolchildren had it, although none of my family members at home caught it from us.
I know jaundice in itself is not a disease. Could we have had hepatitis? Are there any long-term effects from it? — A.P.
ANSWER: It does indeed sound like hepatitis.
The most common form of contagious hepatitis is called hepatitis A. It comes from contaminated food or water, but it sounds like your family was very careful if nobody else at home caught it. Fortunately, hepatitis A does not have any long-term effects, the way hepatitis B and C do.
Acute mononucleosis sometimes causes hepatitis, but if a lot of kids had it at the same time, I suspect it came from food. There is now a vaccine for hepatitis A, which is recommended for all travelers.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I looked in the mirror this morning and couldn’t believe what I saw. My right eye was bright red. It looked like someone had punched me. When my husband saw it, he asked if he had hit me while he was asleep. He didn’t.
It doesn’t hurt. My vi- sion is perfect. My eye looks frightful. Do I need to see a doctor? — Y.T.
ANSWER: Your question is asked repeatedly. My long-distance guess is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The conjunctiva is a cellophane like covering of the eye. Beneath it is a network of invisible blood vessels. When one of those delicate vessels breaks, blood covers that part of the eye.
Coughing, sneezing or straining causes the breakage. Sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. The eye looks awful, but no real harm is done. The blood is absorbed in about a week. You can hurry it up by putting warm compresses over the closed eye.
You need to see a doctor if the eye begins to pain you, if the blood stays for longer than a week or if it happens again.
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.
©2013 North America Synd.