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Ask Dr. Gott 7/12

Education first step to treatment

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I read one of your columns titled "Neuropathy treatment not always effective." The reader described over three years of efforts by physicians and medications to alleviate the excruciating pain of idiopathic neuropathy, without relief.
    I've been doing some Internet surfing and found several interesting Web sites suggesting that many undiagnosed or misdiagnosed illnesses might be due to the ingestion of aspartame in diet drinks and other foods. It would be interesting to ask the reader if diet drinks were consumed. If so, he or she should stop the ingestion of aspartame for a couple of months to see if the symptoms go away.
    Here are the Web sites I found most interesting: www.dorway.com/mysympt.txt; www.dorway.com/badnews.txt; www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=457; www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=458; and www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=459.
    DEAR READER: Idiopathic neuropathy, a form of nerve malfunction that causes excruciating pain, burning and numbness, is extremely difficult to treat. The condition plagues patient and physician alike. Treatment has included prescription medication, magnets, mega doses of vitamin B, reflexology, soap under the sheets, medicated VapoRub, the judicious use of narcotics and more.
    As I have said in the past, patients with this condition should start with their primary care physician -- the best judge of a person's health needs. He or she might suggest an over-the-counter medicine as a first step and progress from there.
    Thank you for supplying the Web site information. Patient education is an excellent beginning in understanding this complex condition.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have never written a letter like this before, but I figure if I can help just one man or woman, it's worth it. Yes, men can get breast cancer, too.
    I read in your column one day about the lady with the inverted nipple that, as I understand it, didn't show up as cancer. Her doctor didn't do anything about it.
    Well, take it from someone who knows: It can be cancer in the milk ducts. I ended up losing my right breast due to this kind of cancer. It didn't show up in two mammograms, but a biopsy revealed it. It spread fast, as I understand this type does.
    I hope this puts a light on anyone who has an inverted nipple. Don't wait, but see your doctor at once. Hope you can get it in time if that is what it happens to be. I'm sure glad I did, or I would likely have died four or more years ago.
    DEAR READER: Your comments are appropriate. Inflammatory breast cancer and cancer of the milk ducts may not show up on a mammogram. An inverted nipple or a skin dimple must not be ignored.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Breast Cancer and Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: When my friends say I'm "full of it," are they telling me I am walking around with two or three meals still in my intestines? The idea makes me a little ill!
    DEAR READER: Unfortunately, the phrase "full of it" is a claim that what you have to say is as important as fecal matter — not exactly a compliment. Ignore it.

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