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Ask Dr. Gott 12/12

Antiviral therapy needed for shingles

DEAR DR. GOTT: My problem is shingles on my wife, who is 78 years old.
    She's had them now for six weeks. The first four weeks she endured sudden, sharp pain at intervals from 30 minutes to 12 hours. She is no longer bothered with those, but her back has scabs that won't fall off. They burn, and she is in terrible pain. She can't bear to have someone even touch her back. She aches all over.
    She usually knows how to maintain a healthy life, but this has her stumped. Do you have any thoughts on her situation?
    DEAR READER: Your wife needs to have antiviral therapy, such as Zovirax, because it's likely that she has persisting infection. She should see her doctor. I don't believe that she is a candidate for topical clear fingernail polish (which I recently reported on) because she is not in the acute phase.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: We have a well with hard water. When our water softener wore out and I got tired of dragging those heavy bags of salt to our basement, we elected to not replace it. Soon after, the water heater also wore out! The new heater gave off cloudy, smelly water until it was readjusted for this hardness factor. Also, I noticed my ice-cube trays either need replacing monthly or need to be soaked in white vinegar to prevent lime deposits. Now I am wondering, what, if any, harm could this water, either in cooking or drinking, be doing to us physically?
    DEAR READER: Before answering your question, I'd have to know the cause of the well's contamination. If the lime is to blame, you might consider reinstalling the water softener. On the other hand, if your well water contains other minerals (such as lead) or bacteria, your health could be affected.
    If you haven't already, have your well checked by your municipal health department. This analysis should give you the information you require, as well as suggestions about how to decontaminate your water system.
    If your only problem is the lime and you still do not wish to use the water softener, it will cause you no ill effects. You will, however, need to take precautions, because the lime can build up and may ruin some appliances, such as coffee makers and dishwashers, unless they are cleaned and "delimed" regularly.

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