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Ask Dr. Gott 2/15

Growing head might be symptom of Paget's disease

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Posted: February 14, 2007 3:57 p.m.
Updated: March 1, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I hope you can offer some suggestions regarding my problem. My head seems to be enlarging. I'm 72.
    I wear hats all the time, favorite hats I've worn for years. I had to set bands, combs and clips into the bands because they were always too big. My hair was thicker, permed and colored. A few years ago, I put on a great deal of weight. (Retirement did not agree with me.) I have since lost most of that weight. My clothes are now too big and my shoes are too big, but my hats are too tight and getting worse, if I can wear any of them.
    I went to several doctors because of my head size. I was not expecting my head to increase in size, so I did not take measurements. I have only my collection of hats to judge the increased size.     I had several bone-density tests and was told that bones do not increase after puberty. I do realize the body's bones can become heavier as we age. I have always enjoyed physical activities and a healthful diet.
    I do not have headaches, but I have a ringing in my head when my energy slows down. The ringing is in my head, not in my ears. Any comments?
    DEAR READER: Increasing head circumference may reflect a relatively common condition known as Paget's disease, an affliction marked by islands of overactive bone tissue in various parts of the body that can cause pain, headaches and hearing problems. However, Paget's disease usually produces few, if any, symptoms.
    The diagnosis is made using blood tests and bone scans. Other causes include multiple myeloma, an overactive parathyroid gland and metastatic cancer. Treatment depends on the cause.
    I urge you to share my comments with your physician, who can order the necessary testing and, I hope, provide you with a diagnosis.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Do most diabetics have a growth in the roof of their mouths? I have had a bad sinus infection that seems to have come from my mouth, nose and throat. Breathing is difficult. Is it a problem for a nose-and-throat specialist, or a family doctor?
    DEAR READER: Diabetics do not ordinarily have growths in their mouths.
    Sinus infections typically involve the sinus tissues in the cheeks and above the eyes.
    You should first check with your family physician for an exam and treatment. If you need antibiotics, if your situation worsens or if your doctor has been unable to help you, a referral to an ear-nose-and-throat specialist would be appropriate.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Diabetes." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0267. Be sure to mention the title.

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