DEAR DR. ROACH: I have had several blows to my head. I read somewhere that this could cause dementia. I am 72 years old and am concerned. Should I be? — Anon.
ANSWER: I think what you may have read are studies showing that football players, who constantly receive very hard blows to the head — which isn’t completely protected by a helmet — have a high risk of developing changes to the brain, called C.T.E., chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The same disease is found in boxers and hockey players.
While it’s unclear how much damage is necessary to cause this, I doubt that a few blows to the head should give you cause for concern.
I am concerned, however, about a subdural hematoma (“subdural” means “below the dura,” the thick protective covering of the brain; “hematoma” just means “bruise”). These can come from a single, not necessarily powerful, blow in just the right spot in a person in his 70s. It may quickly cause a condition that looks like dementia. If you have had a rapid change in memory ability or sudden onset of confusion, it’s not likely dementia, and should be checked out by your doctor or a neurologist.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Is there any truth in all the advertisements for penile enlargement that I see in just about all magazines? These formulas say “100 percent safe and natural with guaranteed results.” — R.S.
ANSWER: No, not a shred of truth. At best, they are harmless placebo and at worst, dangerous. However, somebody must be buying them, since I get what seems hundreds of emails about it. Don’t waste your money.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have an 11-year-old granddaughter who wets the bed. After she wets the bed, she sleeps all night being wet. How can she sleep all night? In the morning, everything is soaked.
The doctor says she will outgrow it; meanwhile, everything is wet. She lives with my son, who is a single father, and I am sure she has emotional issues. What can we do to help her? — S.W.
ANSWER: Bedwetting is very common, and the incidence goes down with age. About 4 percent of 11-year-olds wet the bed, but only 2 percent of 13-year-olds do. It’s very important to recognize that the bedwetting isn’t the child’s fault, and that she should not be punished for the behavior.
Reducing fluid intake in the afternoon and evening, and voiding right before bed are important. Motivational tools, such as a calendar where she gets a star for every dry night, have been found to be helpful in younger children (age 5-7), if the child is motivated to stop. Bed alarms and medications are other treatments to consider if the motivational techniques, fluid management and regular voiding don’t work after three to six months.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Regarding your recent article on rectal itching, I see that one cure was never mentioned. Our doctor prescribed the same medicine that is used for vaginal yeast infection, and the itching is gone for good. This worked for family and friends, so please suggest this in a future article. — J.C.
ANSWER: Thank you for taking the time to write in. I actually have received many responses similar to this, and I looked it up and found that it can be effective. It shouldn’t be used for the long term — a week or two at most. If it doesn’t work, stop using it.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.