Ask the Doctors

Hello, dear readers! We're back with our monthly column to continue our conversation regarding your questions, concerns and thoughts about previous topics.

-- We'd like to begin with those of you who have written to us about specific medical issues that you or your loved ones are facing. As we've mentioned before, we can't give medical advice or suggest a diagnosis in this column. However, from the content of these letters, it's clear that you have been in contact with medical professionals.

If the medical information you have received is unclear, we urge you to follow up with your providers. Make a list of your questions. (And, as a reader has suggested, it's a great idea to make two lists and give one to the doctor.) Rank the questions in descending order of importance and then go over each issue until you receive an answer that you understand.

If you're still not getting the information you need in the form that you need it, we urge you to seek a second opinion. It can be from an entirely new doctor, or it can be from a different person in your own physician's office. It's quite possible that a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant in your health care provider's office or medical group may have a different approach to the issue that works better for you.

The final piece is to be sure to write everything down. It not only gives you a record of what was said that you can refer to in the future, but the simple act of writing something down also helps you to realize whether or not you are actually clear about what is being said.

-- We've had a number of readers ask about our answer to a woman who was experiencing urine leakage due to stress incontinence. When we stated that there are no approved medications for this problem, we meant stress incontinence only. As many of you pointed out in your emails and letters, urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, can be treated with an array of FDA-approved medications.

-- As scientists, we admire precision. In that spirit, we'd like to acknowledge a lapse that someone pointed out in our column about Candida auris, the so-called superbug fungus that is wreaking havoc in some hospitals. At one point, we referred to this yeast as an "organism." It is, as are all yeasts, a microorganism.

-- We've been receiving quite a few letters regarding the column about sundowning, a late-day confusion that's common among individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. Many of you described experiences with loved ones where symptoms similar to sundowning were caused by medication imbalances or the lingering effects of anesthesia. This is an important topic that we will take up in an upcoming column.

As ever, we'd like to thank you for your interest in, contributions to and suggestions for our columns. Every one of your letters and emails are read, and we are grateful for the time you take to write and send them.

(Send your questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)

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