DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband has Meniere’s disease. We cannot find anyone who can help him. Is there any medication for this? — L.M.
ANSWER: Meniere’s disease causes episodes of vertigo, tinnitus and eventually hearing loss. It is caused by swelling in the organ of balance in the inner ear, but the reason for the swelling isn’t clear.
Before being seen by a doctor, your husband can try to identify triggers for the attacks. Common triggers include a high-salt diet, tobacco, alcohol and stress. A low-salt diet can dramatically reduce episodes.
ENT doctors are usually expert in treating Meniere’s disease. A diuretic such as hydrochlorothiazide often is used if diet alone doesn’t help.
The booklet on vertigo explains this disruptive condition in detail and outlines its treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 801W, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Can person who has AIDS cook for his or her family and loved ones without fear of getting them sick? How long does it take to die once you are diagnosed with AIDS? How does someone with AIDS die? — D.R.
ANSWER: HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is acquired usually through sexual contact, exposure to contaminated blood or passed from mother to child. There has never been a reported case where a person was infected through casual contact, such as sharing eating utensils or using the same bathroom. HIV has never been reported as being transmitted through saliva, tears or sweat. It isn’t transmitted by insects, either. However, it’s not recommended to share razors or toothbrushes, since these can be contaminated by blood.
The progression of disease caused by HIV is highly variable. There often is a fever and flulike symptoms at the time of first infection. Most people will test positive by the usual blood test within a few months of becoming infected. People with HIV often remain without symptoms for years; however, the virus continues to replicate and destroy CD4 cells, a key regulator of the immune system, during this time.
The term “AIDS” is reserved for advanced HIV infection with a specific, defining illness, such as Pneumocystis pneumonia; or a CD4 count below 200 (normal is around 1,000).
As far as prognosis goes, the most important single factor is whether a person with HIV infection is prescribed ( and properly takes!) appropriate treatment. There certainly are many people who have had HIV for over 20 years without getting AIDS.
With very advanced HIV infection, the immune system is unable to fight off infections, but also, the body cannot fight off cancer. Since people with HIV can live so long, heart disease and any other cause is possible. Very often, people die with, not from, their HIV.
For people living with HIV and who haven’t told their family, I recommend doing so. I know it’s complex, and it may not be right for everybody, but it will help relieve stress for most.
©2016 North America Synd.