Q. I'm a Baby Boomer who still loves rock concerts, but sometimes I worry if the noise is hurting my old ears.
Sound volume is measured in decibels (dB). You risk hearing loss when you are exposed to sounds at 85 decibels or more. The louder the sound and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk.
Here's the bad news: rock music is on many lists as an example of a dangerous sound. Here's one of those lists:
30 dB = Library
50 dB = Rain
60 dB = Conversation (apolitical)
70 dB = Vacuum cleaner
80 dB = Busy street
90 dB = Shop tools
Q. What is acetaminophen and why do I see it listed on so many products in my medicine cabinet?
Acetaminophen is the most widely used pain-reliever and fever-reducer in the world. It is contained in more than 100 products. Tylenol is the best known over-the-counter (OTC) acetaminophen product. It is also a component of well-known prescription drugs such as Darvocet and Percocet. Acetaminophen also is known as paracetamol and N-acetyl-p-aminophenol (APAP).
Q. I'm 68 and thinking of taking testosterone. Will it help me to feel younger?
There is some controversy about whether testosterone therapy should be used in men who have naturally lower testosterone levels because of aging. It remains unclear whether restoring earlier testosterone levels benefits older men.
For example, studies found that healthy men who took testosterone medications got bigger muscles, but in most studies the men weren't stronger. And, if you suffer from erectile dysfunction, taking testosterone may not relieve your condition.
Q.What is sundown syndrome and who does it affect?
Sundown syndrome, which is also called "sundowning," is a symptom that affects people with dementia. Those with the syndrome become confused and anxious as the sun sets. People with sundowning often have trouble sleeping.
The cause of the syndrome isn't known. Some research suggests that sundowning may be related to changes to the brain's circadian pacemaker. That's a cluster of nerve cells that keeps the body on a 24-hour clock.
Q. I don't seem to enjoy spicy foods the way I used to. Does aging have anything to do with this?
As we age, our sense of taste may change, but this loss of zing in some foods might be caused by medicines you're taking. Drugs can change your sense of taste, and some can also make you feel less hungry. So, the aging process and the medicines we're taking can affect our enjoyment of food and, therefore, our nutrition, because we may not eat all we need.
Q. How common is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. This condition creates an increased risk of fractures.
Our bodies remove old bone and replace it with new bone. During our growth stage, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. We hit peak bone mass around age 30. After that age, we lose more bone than we form.
Q. A friend of mine is lactose intolerant. What exactly does that mean?
People who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting dairy products. Lactose intolerance usually is not dangerous.
Lactase is an enzyme made in the small intestine. You need lactase to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. People who are lactose intolerant don't make enough lactase; after consuming lactose, they suffer from bloating, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea. These symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting lactose.
Q. My mouth seems to be a bit dry most of the time. Does this mean anything?
Everyone experiences dry mouth (xerostomia) occasionally. We get it when we are under stress. But if you have dry mouth all or most of the time, you need medical help.
Symptoms are: saliva that seems thick, sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth, difficulty speaking and swallowing, bad breath, a change in your sense of taste, increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.
Q. I've got problems with several joints and I heard low-impact exercise is something I should try. What is low-impact and can you suggest some exercises?
Warning: If you want to begin a new exercise program, you should consult your physician and request a list of exercises that are best for your age and physical condition.
As you age, your body becomes less flexible and more vulnerable to injury. Low-impact exercise does not place excessive pressure on your body. There are many low-impact activities that can give you a good, relatively safe workout.
Q. My brother told me he has a "macular pucker." Is this the same thing as macular degeneration?
The lens in the front of your eye focuses light on the retina in the back of your eye. The lens is like the one in a camera, and the retina is like film. The space between the lens and retina is filled with the vitreous, a clear gel that helps to maintain the shape of the eye.