Ask the Doctor

Ask the Doctor

I’ve heard that it’s good to eat chicken soup when you're sick. Is this true or just an old wives' tale?

Eating chicken soup when you're sick can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Drinking the broth from chicken soup is a great way to stay hydrated, which is particulary important when you're sick. The salt in the broth is also good for you because it replaces lost electrolytes. According to research done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, chicken soup has a mild anti-inflammatory effect, which may result in the temporary relief of some of the symptoms of a viral infection. Chicken soup also can be a simple, healthy, and comforting meal if you include a variety of vegatables, such as carrots and celery, and either nooldes or rice for energy from carbohydrates.

What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes, formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes, occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys its own insulin-producing cells. People with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered via injection or pump. Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, results when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes effectively.

What's the difference between HDL and LDL blood cholesterol?

LDL is known as the "bad" cholesterol because when too much circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. HDL, on the other hand, is known as the "good" cholesterol. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.

Is there anyone who should NOT get the flu shot this year?

Those who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, anyone allergic to chicken eggs, or people who have a fever should wait until your symptoms improve before getting vaccinated. Click here to read more about how you can get ready for the upcoming flu season.

What are some of the essential vaccinations needed for living in Shanghai?

Some of the most essential vaccines for life in Shanghai include Influenza, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Rabies, Tetanus and Polio. Consult with your doctor to determine which vaccinations are right for you and your family.

Can dehydration be treated only with water?

Mild/moderate dehydration can be treated with adequate oral replenishment with water. In cases of severe dehydration, one should seek medical attention immediately as prompt IV fluid support is needed.
For more information, please go to our article, Dehydration- Don’t Let It Happen To You.

I tend to have back pain on and off. Will it eventually fix itself?

We used to believe that back pain will heal or "fix" itself. However, this is not always the case. It is important for people to get a proper diagnosis and become educated about back pain, find out why it occurs, and determine how to best manage the condition. This approach will give people the best long term prognosis and improve their overall health.

Hand Foot & Mouth Disease is back in the news again. What can I do to make sure my child does not get infected?

As the virus is transmitted via direct contact with a sick person’s saliva, stool or hands, consistent washing of the hands and face becomes a high priority.

At what age do patients generally need to first see a podiatrist?

Podiatry is largely about prevention. The best time to get a first check-up for kids is between 6 to 10 years old. This is about the time kids start getting into sports and we can make sure their mobility and musculoskeletal system is in balance. As for adults, it is always good to get a check-up for prevention, and one should definetly come when experiencing some kind of pain in the foot, ankle or knee.

Are there any ways to prevent getting the bird flu?

Like any other virus, personal hygiene is paramount. Any handling of poultry should be followed by thorough hand-washing. Exposure to living foul is also a source of the virus so beware of close contact with live birds in parks, zoos and during wilderness trips.

I'm constantly sneezing, have a sore throat, itchy eyes and sometimes have a cough. Do I have some kind of never-ending cold?

Having persistent sneezing, sore throat, itchy eyes or coughing may seem like you are having one cold after another. However, your symptoms may also be due to allergy. Most people associate allergy symptoms with spring, but allergies also take place at other times, including the winter. It's best to check with your doctor to see if you have allergies and get the relief you need.

They’ve now found traces of melamine in eggs. Should we avoid eggs completely?

Unfortunately at this time not much information is available related to this issue. It is believed that the eggs were contaminated through chicken feed. Dalian, a large city in Liaoning Province, has been specifically blamed for this contamination. Some sources claim that the levels of melamine in the eggs are so small that it would require a daily intake of about 24 eggs a day to cause harm. At present, I recommend consuming organic brands that are still melamine-free and safe. Local eggs from other regions may be safe as well. We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

I have a bad cold, should I ask my doctor to prescribe antibiotics?

Talk to your doctor about the best treatment. You should not expect to get a prescription for antibiotics. If you have a viral infection, antibiotics will not cure it, help you feel better, or prevent someone else from getting your virus.

Regarding the recent news of melamine-tainted milk, what is melamine and what are the health risks it causes?

Melamine is a chemical substance normally used in the manufacturing of plastics and fertilizers. For children/infants exposed to milk products contaminated with melamine, there is a risk of developing kidney stones and subsequent risk of renal failure.

How long am I contagious when I have the flu?

You’re actually contagious about 24 hours before you even have any kind of flu symptoms.
And as long as you have symptoms of the flu you can spread the virus. This means even when you start feeling a little bit better but still maybe have a slight lingering runny nose, you are still contagious.

Do not take anti-diarrhea medicine for diarrhea - get that bacteria out as soon as possible!!

Many of us have heard that anti-diarrhea medicine should not be used if you have diarrhea because it will slow down your bowels and the germs causing the diarrhea will stay in your system longer which is not good. While this makes sense, studies have shown that, in fact, medicines that slow your gut down a little do not seem to hurt and make people more comfortable. Keep in mind it's important to make sure you stay well-hydrated because you never know when simple diarrhea is going to turn into vomiting and diarrhea so it's important to keep a full tank. There are exceptions to every rule, and in this case, if you have fever or blood in the stool, then be sure to visit your doctor and do not take the slowing medicines.

What's the difference between a bacterial infection and a viral infection?

Simply put, bacterial are caused by bacteria and are usually treated with antibiotics. Examples of bacterial infections include urinary tract infections or infections from a cut or wound. Viral infections are caused by a virus. Approximately 85% of all respiratory infections like sore throats, ear infections and sinus infections are viral. There are no medications for viral infections and the best treatment is rest, lots of water, hot steamy showers and time.

Does a very high fever mean a serious illness?

A very high fever does not usually have anything to do with the severity of an illness.  The exception is children under 3 months old who are not mature immunologically and therefore require much more attention in the case of a fever.

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