You Wanted to Know: PPIs


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), acid-reducers often used to treat heartburn and indigestion, are among the most commonly taken medications in the U.S. Thousands of Americans take over-the-counter PPIs like omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium) now and then to ease abdominal discomfort, usually with few side effects. But for many with severe symptoms, GERD or other stomach conditions like ulcers, taking a PPI can become a daily necessity that can continue for years. One of our viewers asked us about the potential long-term consequences of taking PPIs:  



You Wanted to Know: Chocolate


For chocolate lovers, few holidays rank as high as Valentine’s Day. Fortunately for fanatics, chocolate is not only a delicious treat – it can also be a healthy one. But if you duck into the candy aisle without knowing exactly what to look for, you might find that you’re doing yourself (or your loved ones) a disservice. One of our viewers, Umita, asked us whether chocolate really can be good for you:



You Wanted to Know: Bariatric Surgery

Doctor with Stethoscope Holding Red Measuring Tape.

As you all know, I believe deeply in the power of eating right and staying active, not only to help you lose weight, but also to boost your mood and help you live longer. But for some people, years of diet and exercise haven’t been enough to get them to a healthy weight and reduce the risks of chronic diseases like diabetes. Weight loss surgery has been gaining momentum and is a healthy option for certain people who have been persistently unsuccessful at losing weight. Brenda asked me about who might benefit from these bariatric procedures on Twitter:



You Wanted to Know: Bell’s Palsy

Woman look at herself bathroom mirror reflection

Bell’s palsy occurs when the facial nerve becomes damaged, leading to paralysis of half of the face. This condition comes on suddenly, can strike anyone and affects up to 40,000 Americans every year.

Inflammation, swelling or compression of the facial nerve is responsible for the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. Viruses, particularly herpes simplex virus I (which causes cold sores) and herpes zoster (which causes chicken pox and shingles), are thought to be a common culprit, but the exact cause is not known. One of our viewers, Johnnie, has struggled with this distressing condition multiple times:



You Wanted to Know: Hernias

Young woman in pain

Hernias, which occur when fatty tissue or an organ protrudes through the body wall that normally contains it, are one of the oldest recorded human maladies. Groin hernias are estimated to affect 5 to 10% of all Americans and are the third leading cause of outpatient doctors’ visits for gastrointestinal complaints.

Rachel asked us about the symptoms of a hernia on Twitter:



You Wanted to Know: GERD Remedies

Spoonful of baking soda

Burning in the chest or throat, a sour or bitter taste, regurgitation of food and trouble swallowing – these are all symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD, a common condition estimated to affect 10 to 20% of Americans, is a severe form of acid reflux that occurs when stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. For many people, this is simply unpleasant, but over time it may become dangerous.

As stomach acid eats away at the lining of the esophagus, cells in the esophagus can become damaged and morph into the types of cells more commonly seen in the intestine (a condition called Barrett’s esophagus). These changes are seen in about 5 to 10% of people with GERD and significantly raise the risk of esophageal cancer. Julia asked us about how to naturally minimize her risk on Twitter:



You Wanted to Know: Brain Cancer

doctor view output CT scan.

Even though brain cancer makes up only 2% of all cancers, rates of this deadly disease have been increasing over the past 50 years. Unfortunately, the average five-year survival rate for malignant brain tumors is only about 33%. This is one reason why it’s important to know your risk factors.

Elaine asked us about one of these risk factors on Twitter: