DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In the past year, I have been intimate with three men, all of whom I know pretty well and all of whom hold responsible positions in the business world. This past month, I had a vaginal discharge and some itching. I consulted a doctor, and the diagnosis was a trichomonas infection.

I’d never heard of this kind of infection. Is it common?

I took for granted that the men I have dated would not pass along a sexually transmitted disease. I guess I was wrong. I have taken metronidazole, and my symptoms have gone. Am I cured? — B.D.

ANSWER: Trichomonas (TRICK-uh-MOAN-us) is a one-celled organism, like the amoeba you might have studied in high-school biology. It is the second most common sexually transmitted infection. In the United States, more than 7 million new cases occur yearly, and worldwide, more than 180 million cases occur.

Female infection can produce a yellowish-green discharge with an unpleasant odor. Itching, pain on urination and painful sexual relations are other symptoms. As many as 50 percent of infected women have no symptoms or have such slight ones that the woman is hardly aware of them.

As for men, 90 percent have no symptoms. It’s the symptomless men and women who contribute most to the large number of infections, and one of your partners, B.D., might have been one of them.

Doctors make the diagnosis by seeing the organism with a microscope in a vaginal specimen. Other tests are available. One is a rapid test that detects the organism in vaginal secretions.

Metronidazole (Flagyl) or tinidazole (Tindamax) almost always achieves a permanent cure. The partner of an infected person also should receive treatment.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: On two occasions, my heart sped up. I could feel it. The first time, I was sitting at my desk. The second time, I was watching TV. Neither spell lasted more than 10 minutes. I hadn’t seen a doctor in a long, long time. This year I had a very thorough physical examination, which included an EKG, my first. The doctor told me that it showed Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. He is going to give me more tests, and he says I will have to either take medicine or have a special heart procedure. What is he talking about? — L.O.

ANSWER: In Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, the heart races from time to time. It happens because people with WPW syndrome have an extra pathway in their heart for the electric impulse, generated by the heart’s pacemaker, to take on its way to the heart’s pumping chambers, the ventricles. When the electric signal takes this alternate route, the heartbeat slips into a very fast mode.

WPW syndrome produces an unusual and easily recognized EKG pattern.

The procedure your doctor mentioned involves destruction of the aberrant pathway. It can be done with a catheter and special equipment. A catheter is a slender, pliable tube that can be advanced into the heart through a surface blood vessel. Radio waves from the catheter’s equipment obliterate the alternate path.

Medicines also can prevent heart racing. Beta-blocker drugs and calcium channel blockers are two families of drugs often chosen.

The booklet on heartbeat abnormalities covers the more common kinds of heart rhythm disturbances, things like atrial fibrillation, but not WPW syndrome. To order a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 107, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853. Enclose a check or money order for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband showed me a large white spot on his tongue. I tried to wipe it off with a washcloth. It didn’t come off. I think it might be thrush. Our son had this as a child. What do you think? — M.L.

ANSWER: Leukoplakia (LUKE-uh-PLAY-key-uh) is a more likely diagnosis. A patch of leukoplakia can turn into cancer, so it’s something that cannot be ignored. Your husband has to see the family dentist or doctor.

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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