DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My grandson was diagnosed with myocarditis. I understand this is an infection of the heart. Will you please tell me how this was contracted and what medications cure it? Is this usually a lifelong problem? He is 18, and before the infection, he had a heart cath to be eligible to play college basketball. Could this be the source of his infection? – C.G.

ANSWER: “Itis” at the end of a medical word indicates inflammation, and “myocard” denotes heart muscle. Your grandson had heart muscle inflammation most often due to a viral infection of heart muscle.

How he got the infection probably will never be discovered. The viruses that cause myocarditis are all around, but only rarely do they infect heart muscle. Your grandson happened to be one of those rare unfortunates who come down with the infection. I don’t believe his catheterization was the source of trouble.

Myocarditis can produce symptoms of heart failure – shortness of breath on slight exertion, great fatigue and difficulty getting enough air when lying flat. When those symptoms are coupled with fever in a young person, the diagnosis of myocarditis springs to mind.

For viral myocarditis infections, there is no cure medicine. Rest is important, and drugs that control heart failure are almost always needed.

Most people recover completely from an episode of myocarditis, and most can resume the same active lives they lead before the infection.

Why did your grandson have a heart catheterization before being allowed to play college basketball? That’s not a usual requirement. Did he have a suspected heart condition before the infection?

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: You wrote that a prostate biopsy is “uncomfortable but not medieval torture.” Have you ever had one done? I was with my husband when he had his. I almost passed out during the procedure. My husband squeezed my hand all through the ordeal, and he grunted nonstop in pain. He told me he suffered more from this than from anything that has happened to him before. How do you square that with your comment? – B.W.

ANSWER: I got many letters informing me that a prostate biopsy was most unpleasant. I got an equal number saying it was a breeze. No, I have never had one, but I won’t hesitate to submit to one if it’s necessary.

I’d like to quote a letter from a Michigan man: “The point of this letter is to let other people know that a prostate biopsy is slightly uncomfortable. I wouldn’t choose it as a form of recreation. The real burdens of a biopsy are two: the period of uncertainty that follows, during which a man contemplates the possibility of a bad outcome (cancer), and the risk of complications from the procedure. The biopsy really does fall into the not-a-big-deal pain category.”

In the original letter that prompted this discussion, the writer was going to put off a prostate biopsy for fear of the pain involved – a bad mistake.

Readers wanting to know more about prostate cancer and prostate enlargement can obtain the booklet on those topics by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 1001, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

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. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a widower in my mid-70s who recently found an attractive companion, and we have become intimate friends. We had a conversation about the G-spot. We are at a loss to know what it is and where it is. If your paper is somewhat Victorian in its outlook, I pity it, because sex is such a wonderful bonding for humans. Can you tell us something about this? – P.H.

ANSWER: It’s not from prudery that I can’t give you a detailed answer. It’s from ignorance.

The G-spot comes from Dr. Ernst Grafenberg, a German doctor, who proposed that there is an area on the front part of the vagina, that, when stimulated, adds to a woman’s sexual pleasure. Not everyone subscribes to this theory. I can tell you that in most libraries and in all bookstores there are many volumes devoted to the topic.


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