DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I just had my second pelvic exam. I am 21. The doctor told me he was going to check for infections as well as cancer, and I told him to go ahead. I have no symptoms of infection, like a discharge or any pain. It turns out I have a chlamydia infection. The doctor said it could make having children impossible. I am crushed by all this. I have had two sex partners. I asked if I should tell them, and he just shrugged his shoulders. What do I do? I am being treated. – C.A.

Chlamydia (kluh-MID-ee-uh) is the most common sexually transmitted, bacterial infection in the United States and Canada. More than 4 million adults, mostly between the ages of 16 and 25, come down with it yearly in the U.S. One reason why it’s so rampant is that the infection often causes no symptoms in the woman or the man. That leaves a large number of infected people who continue to spread the infection without knowing that they are doing so. Yes, tell your partners, and tell them they should be treated.

When symptoms do occur, they consist of pelvic pain, pain on urination, vaginal discharge and painful sexual relations in women. In men, the symptoms are a discharge from the penis and painful urination. Sometimes a testicle swells and hurts.

If the infection isn’t treated with antibiotics, it can spread upward in the female genital tract and leave the ovarian ducts scarred and closed. That makes a woman infertile. It also can infect the pelvic organs to produce pelvic inflammatory disease, a painful condition often requiring hospitalization.

Neither should happen to you. You are being treated with antibiotics.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and I have had it for longer than six months. My doctor says I need surgery. No way. Is there an exercise I can do to get rid of it? – L.F.

There is no reliable exercise to correct carpal tunnel syndrome – a common condition in which the large nerve that enters the hand through the wrist (carpus) is squeezed by adjacent, inflamed tissues. That causes pain or numbness in the thumb, index, middle and adjacent half of the ring finger.

However, you’re welcome to try an exercise that is sometimes suggested. Extend the arms straight out in front of you with the palms facing down. With the hand that isn’t painful, bend the painful hand at the wrist so that the fingers are pointing upward. Hold that position for five seconds. Return the hand to its starting position and repeat the exercise 10 times. I’m not advocating this, because I don’t believe it works all that well. It’s said to stretch the constricting tunnel through which the nerve passes.

Have you tried a wrist splint? You can get one at most any drugstore. It rests the wrist and calms any inflammation.

Injections of cortisone around the wrist tunnel also work.

You need not fear surgery. Sometimes it can be done with a tiny incision through which a scope is passed to see the involved structures and fix them.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have read in many places that oxidants are harmful to the body and are the root cause of us aging.

If that is so, wouldn’t deep breathing be a danger? The more oxygen you breathe in, the more oxidants you make. – C.B.

You have a lively imagination. Oxidants do not come from the air we breathe even if we breathe pure oxygen.

They’re waste products generated by body’s normal biological processes. They’re like the pollutants that come out of a car’s exhaust. You can breathe deeply all you want.

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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