Q. Does drinking carrot juice help with cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens, the clear part of the eye that helps focus images like the lens in a camera. Cataracts can blur images and discolor them. Most cataracts are related to aging. More than half of Americans over age 65 have a cataract.
I suspect this reader’s question was inspired by the common belief that carrots are good for your eyes. And carrots are good for your eyes.
Q. A friend of mine said his doctor told him he has “hemochromatosis.” He didn’t seem worried. I didn’t want to ask, but is it serious?
Every once in a while I get a question that surprises me completely. Hemochromatosis? I thought it sounded like a rare condition in a small subculture. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Q. My father was diagnosed with SVT? Is that bad?
SVT stands for supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally-fast heart rhythm. It is not usually dangerous. SVT is one of many types of arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat.
Most arrhythmias are harmless. Even serious arrhythmias can be treated successfully. Most people with arrhythmias are able to live healthy lives.
Q. I’m a healthy 71-year-old woman and I sweat a lot. I was wondering if it’s something I should discuss with my doctor.
Heavy sweating, or perspiration, is normal if you are exercising, in a hot environment or you are nervous. It also happens during menopause.
Healthy people sweat, but the amount varies widely. Some people inherit heavy sweating, especially on their palms and the soles of their feet. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, excessive sweating affects about 8 million Americans.
Q. What are the most common food allergies?
Foods that produce most allergic reactions in adults include fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, peanuts, eggs and tree nuts such as walnuts and pecans. Common children’s allergic reactions are caused by eggs, milk, wheat and peanuts.
A true food allergy is an abnormal response by your immune system to certain foods. All reactions to foods are not allergies. When you have a reaction that doesn’t involve the immune system, this reaction is called food intolerance.
Q. I don’t get it. Is ozone a good thing or a bad thing?
Ozone, a gas, is a form of oxygen. It is created when an electric spark or ultraviolet light passes through air, or when pollutants react chemically with sunlight. Beneficial ozone is in the upper atmosphere, 10 to 30 miles above the surface of the Earth. It protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Too much of these rays may increase the risk of skin cancer, cataracts and problems with our immune systems. Part of the good ozone layer has been destroyed by man-made chemicals.
Q. Can drinking alcohol give you gout?
Gout, which is one of the most painful forms of arthritis, is caused by a build-up of crystals of uric acid in a joint. Alcohol can lead to increased production of uric acid, so it puts you at a higher risk of getting gout.
Alcohol leads to gout in multiple ways:
It contains purines, proteins that are broken down into uric acid. Purines are found naturally in your body and in some foods.
It promotes dehydration, which raises the uric-acid level in the blood.
Q. I spent many hours at my computer and got this awful pain in my forearm that made me stop. Do you think I have carpal tunnel syndrome?
I’m not qualified to diagnose, so I suggest that, if that pain persists, you see a physician and get it checked. However, I can tell you about carpal tunnel syndrome.
Q. Are cosmetics safe?
Cosmetics include makeup, hair dyes, perfumes, skin creams, lotions, nail polishes, toothpastes and deodorants. Unlike drugs, which are used to treat or prevent disease, cosmetics do not affect the body’s structure or functions.
Q. We’re about to have our first grandchild. I was wondering whether you are a grandfather and have any tips?
My wife, Gale, and I entered grandparenthood with a thud. We were given seven grandchildren in less than seven years. Let me give them all a plug. They are Morgan, 17; Carly, 15; Ethan, 13; Maggie, 13; Christian, 13; Aaron, 11, and Patrick, 10.
First, let me tell you what most grandparents know: you can’t imagine how happy these little people will make you. And I think grandkids improve your mental health by keeping you positive and forward-looking.