DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My wife, who is in her mid-70s, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema/chronic bronchitis). Although once trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), I am now incapable of practicing it. I find it difficult to detect a pulse. I read on the Internet from a heart doctor that a person whose heart is not beating has only 10 seconds before losing consciousness. If he or she coughs every two seconds, that action prompts the heart to restart circulation. Is this plausible, or is it too far-fetched? – R.H.

Coughing has recently been promoted as a way to self-resuscitate a heart that has suddenly stopped. In that short period of time before lapsing into unconsciousness, deep coughing is said to push blood from the lungs, through the nonpumping heart and out into the aorta. Once there, the deep inspiration that follows a cough draws blood into heart arteries to get the heart to pump again. I can’t tell you how successful this maneuver is. The proponent of it says that people should practice deep coughing five times in a row with one to two seconds between coughs as a rehearsal for such a catastrophe.

You can sharpen your cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills by taking a refresher course. The American Heart Association sponsors such courses throughout the country.

Pulse-taking is no longer an obstacle for you. The new guidelines say not to waste time trying to detect a pulse. Right off, call 911. Then give the victim two breaths through his or her mouth and quickly begin chest compression – the key maneuver in getting the heart to beat again. Compressions are done with the heel of one hand on the breastbone and the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand. The exact location on the breastbone is in line with the nipples. Compressions are done hard and fast, depressing the breastbone 1.5 to 2 inches and pumping 100 times a minute. After every 30 compressions, give another two breaths to the patient.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 18-year-old son came down with the mumps. Until he was 14, we lived overseas in a country where mumps vaccinations were not routinely given. I didn’t think to have him vaccinated when we returned. He has recovered nicely, but I am worried that the mumps could have made him infertile. I hear it does so to men. What are his chances of having a family? – C.M.

His chances of having a family are excellent.

Mumps causes swelling of the salivary glands, and the ones most often involved are the parotid glands, one in each cheek. In addition to gland swelling, the infected person has a fever, is out of sorts and frequently complains of headache and earache.

After puberty, close to 25 percent of males will experience a mumps infection of the testicle, along with salivary-gland infection. Most often it is just one testicle. Sterility as a result of testicle infection, even if both testicles are infected, is very rare.

Mumps shows what vaccines can do. In 1967, in the United States, there were more than 185,000 cases of mumps. The vaccine became available that year after the mumps season. In 2003, there were only 300 mumps cases. In December of 2005, an outbreak of mumps occurred in several Iowa colleges and spread to 11 states. In that year, there were 2,597 mumps cases. The mumps virus is still with us and can still spread if immunizations are not obtained.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have asked you this question before but haven’t received an answer. How long do roundworm eggs live? It would greatly relieve my mind if you would answer this question for me. – B.D.

ANSWER: Which roundworm are you interested in? There are quite a few.

The most common roundworm infection in this part of the world is pinworm infection. Pinworm eggs remain viable in the environment for less than two weeks.

Do you have another roundworm in mind – ascaris, hookworm, whipworm and on and on? Write to me again and let me know the one that worries you.

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

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