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Ask the Doctor: Nov. 9, 2021

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 12:42 PM EST
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(WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady of the South Bend Clinic joins us every Tuesday on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1 from Patricia: “Why do my ears ring 24/7?”

DR. BOB: The medical term for ringing in the ears is tinnitus. It can be very annoying and is unfortunately very common.

Most commonly ringing in the ears is due to changes in the nerves responsible for hearing. Typically, we are not able to find an exact cause in these cases. Sometimes it can be due to medicines, infections, or blood vessel problems.

If you have persistent tinnitus, you should see your doctor to rule out these other problems. You may need to have your hearing tested or imaging of your brain.

Unfortunately, tinnitus can be difficult to treat. Sometimes therapy or a hearing aid that distracts you can be helpful.

Question #2 from Ronnie: “I’ve heard that using a vape can help me cut down on smoking, but I’ve also been told that vapes aren’t healthy. Should I use one to help me quit smoking?”

DR. BOB: Vaping is the use of electricity to vaporize a substance that also contains nicotine.

Long term safety of vaping is not known. It is known that there are occasional cases of vaping induced lung injury. This is a severe lung injury. Usually, it involved the use of vaping THC, but some cases only involved nicotine.

Overall, vaping is probably not as bad as smoking, and it does seem that vaping can help people quit smoking. My approach would be the following: We have tried and true ways of smoking cessation that are not vaping. I would try these things first.

If they don’t work, then consider talking to your doctor whether vaping might be a good option for you to quit smoking. But understand we do not know the long-term safety of that method.

Question #3 from Paula: “I’m trying to get my elderly mother (she’s 84) to cut down on drinking, but she says she’s survived into her eighties, and she can have a few beers if she wants. What’s your advice?”

DR. BOB: There is an easy answer to this question and a complex answer.

The short answer is that in general we recommend one alcoholic drink or less per day for women. For the elderly, we need to be particularly concerned about medication interactions with alcohol and alcohol use increasing the risk of falls.

At the same time, your question leads us to some of the limits of what medicine can do. For some people there are more important values than physical health. If someone is older and wants to enjoy a part of life that may not be the best for their health, it can be difficult to convince them to change as they are trying to enjoy the time they have left.

It is unlikely a few beers here and there are going to hurt your mother in the long term, however in the short term it may lead to a fall which would significantly impact her quality of life. I would focus on the short-term negative effects more than the long term.

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