Question: What's your opinion of the flu shots? Should we all get one? My doctor says it's up to me. I'd like a little more direction than that.
- Mrs. L.B.
Answer: I remain a devoted fan of flu shots, and the calendar tells us it is time to get them - some would say past time.
Everyone older than 64, plus people with lung disease, diabetes or kidney ailments, are prime candidates for the annual shots. Others with questionable immune systems for one reason or another are candidates as well. In fact, anyone who wants the vaccine protection can have it.
Medical personnel who work with patients should be required to get protection. Passing on the flu virus to very sick people courts disaster.
The more of us who get the protection, the less likely there is to be a major epidemic.
October and November are not too soon to get the shot, remembering that it takes six weeks to build up defenses in time for the first virus onslaught.
Question: How helpful are iron supplements to a menopausal woman? Is there a need for it by a woman who is now 52 and who experienced menopause at 45?
- Mrs. W.S.
Answer: We all need iron throughout life, male or female, child or adult. The question is who needs more of it than nature delivers in food form.
Why have you been taking the supplements? Many women lose iron through excess menstruation and require them.
If that shoe fits, then you need to consider your new status. The woman who is no longer losing blood through menstruation has changed her iron status significantly. She now requires 10 milligrams of iron daily, compared with the 15 milligrams formerly required.
Iron excess is stored up, and can lead to serious overload problems, as I've noted so often in the past.
Meat, eggs, vegetables and cereals, especially the fortified cereals, are rich dietary sources of iron. A proper diet provides ample iron without resorting to supplements.
Question: Could you please write about toenail fungus? What causes it? How can it be treated? I need help.
Answer: Fungi that infect toenails are all over the place, lying in wait for a chance to grab a toehold.
I can give you the name of a common one: "Trichophyton menta-gro-phytes." Just leave it at "toenail fungus" and you'll be fine. No one will know what you are talking about if you get too particular.
It's impossible to get rid of nail fungi without medicine. I know of two good, prescription anti-fungal pills for nail infections: Lamisil (terbinafine) and Sporanox (itra-cona-zole). Either must be taken for three months.
For tips on problem nails, see Dr. Donohue's "Solving Nail Problems" pamphlet. Order by writing to Dr. Donohue - No. 22, Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077-5539, enclosing a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope and $3.