Want to try a new sup­ple­ment? Check with your phar­ma­cist

The Western Star - - LIFE - Keith Roach To Your Good Health Dr. Roach re­grets that he is un­able to an­swer in­di­vid­ual let­ters, but will in­cor­po­rate them in the col­umn when­ever pos­si­ble. Read­ers may email ques­tions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cor­nell.edu or re­quest an or­der form of availa

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 95 years old, and have been suf­fer­ing from a very painful case of shin­gles. I take many medicines for pain, and for high blood pres­sure and glau­coma. My health-food store ad­ver­tises a nat­u­ral cure for shin­gles, and I won­der if it would in­ter­act with the med­i­ca­tions I take. -- J.H.

AN­SWER: As far as I know, there is no cure for shin­gles, nat­u­ral or oth­er­wise. There are treat­ments to help al­le­vi­ate the pain, but pain fol­low­ing a shin­gles in­fec­tion can last for months, years or, in some cases, a life­time. Stan­dard med­i­cal treat­ments for the pain fol­low­ing shin­gles in­clude drugs that work on pain fibers -- an­tide­pres­sant medicines like amitripty­line, and anti-epilepsy medicines like gabapentin (Neu­ron­tin).

A nat­u­ral ex­tract of hot pep­pers, cap­saicin, can be ap­plied to the painful area, and this is suc­cess­ful in some peo­ple. I have read about nu­mer­ous other pu­ta­tive treat­ments, such as olive leaf ex­tract, but couldn’t find any re­li­able in­for­ma­tion on their ef­fec­tive­ness.

Your best re­source for check­ing in­ter­ac­tions be­tween your medicines and any sup­ple­ments is your phar­ma­cist, but he or she will need the ex­act name of the treat­ment you are con­sid­er­ing.

DEAR DR. ROACH: In a re­cent col­umn, you wrote about low body tem­per­a­ture. I am 66, and my tem­per­a­ture has al­ways been 95 to 96. That be­ing so,

what would a high tem­per­a­ture read­ing be for me? Should I be con­cerned with a temp of 98 or 99? — M.K.

AN­SWER: There isn’t a pre­cise an­swer to your ques­tion. It is true that in peo­ple whose body tem­per­a­ture is slightly lower than nor­mal, a fever may not be as high as what we typ­i­cally think of. It’s also true that older peo­ple (and there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween some­one who is 66 and some­one who is 80 years old) may have lower body tem­per­a­tures than younger peo­ple, even with se­ri­ous in­fec­tions. Fi­nally, tem­per­a­ture is vari­able through­out the day: The low­est is early in the morning, and high­est around 6 p. m. So, a sin­gle num­ber doesn’t pro­vide all the in­for­ma­tion we want. If an older per­son, whose nor­mal tem­per­a­ture is a bit lower than the aver­age, has a tem­per­a­ture over 99 in the morning, that would be enough to get my at­ten­tion, and to at least con­sider whether there might be some­thing re­ally wrong. Pneu­mo­nias and urine in­fec­tions in par­tic­u­lar can be very sub­tle in older peo­ple.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I had two teeth im­planted us­ing hu­man ca­daver bone, due to bone loss. Did I get a trans­fer of that per­son’s DNA in the process, and if so, how would it af­fect my ge­net­ics? — P.G.

AN­SWER: Yes, the bone cells that came along with the teeth have the donor’s DNA. How­ever, bone cells gen­er­ally are sta­ble, from a ge­netic stand­point, so the DNA is likely to sit there and not change the DNA of any of your cells.

That said, peo­ple who get dif­fer­ent types of trans­plants can get donor DNA that may spread to other cells in the re­cip­i­ent’s body. For ex­am­ple, a 2007 study of peo­ple who re­ceived a kidney trans­plant found that some of the donor DNA could be de­tected in blood cells even two years later. It’s very much the same process as ge­netic trans­fer be­tween mother and child: Most of us have a small amount of our mother’s DNA in some of our cells, and moth­ers may have some of their chil­dren’s DNA in their own bod­ies. How­ever, the germ cells (that’s oocytes, or eggs, in women; and sper­ma­to­zoa of men) are rel­a­tively pro­tected from for­eign DNA. It’s very un­likely that you could pass on the DNA from your donor, mother or child.

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