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Ask Dr. Gott 11/14
Mysterious PMR treated with prednisone
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica three months ago. Is this a rare form of arthritis? No one I talk to has heard of it.
    My doctor states it can last from six months to a lifetime. What is your opinion? I am presently on 10 milligrams of prednisone daily. It has done wonders in relieving the crippling pain I was in. Do you approve of this therapy?
    DEAR READER: The cause of polymyalgia is unknown, but most specialists believe that the problem is a connective-tissue disorder. The body's immune system inappropriately attacks normal tissue, particularly in the muscles, joints and arteries. Prednisone, along with other steroids, is the treatment of choice. It will quickly reduce the level of pain and protect your arteries from serious damage. Because PMR often affects arteries in the head, leading to blindness, the therapy must continue for several months at as low a dose as possible, eventually leading to a progressive diminution of treatment. In such cases, the striking positive effects of steroids outweigh the risks and disadvantages. Follow your doctor's instructions.
    To give related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Consumer Tips on Medicines."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I applaud you for stressing the value of the colonoscopy at age 50. When I was that age, I didn't get one, telling my doctor I had high deductible medical insurance and it would be too costly for me. Read: I was too cheap.
    At age 54, I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and have been battling that for three years now. If only I had followed my doctor's advice four years earlier.
    DEAR READER: Colonoscopy is a relatively simple procedure done in a hospital setting on a same-day basis, meaning you arrive properly prepped with an empty colon and are out a few hours later. It allows a gastroenterologist to examine your colon for polyps that may or may not be cancerous.
    Thank you for reminding my readers and me that colonoscopies are appropriate in adults over 50, with repeat studies done every five to 10 years.
    For people reading this column who are in a similar situation with a high deductible or without any health insurance at all, I recommend you speak with your physician, gastroenterologist and local hospital to work out a payment plan within your budget. The procedure is a life-saver.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have very prominent veins on the backs of my hands. I have observed numerous other people, and their veins are just barely visible. Could you tell me why mine are so much more obvious? I am 75, but some of the people I've seen are also in their 70s.
    DEAR READER: As we age, our skins become thinner at variable rates that seem to be genetically related. Fortunately, your concern is not a health issue; it is only one of a cosmetic nature.
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