DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 77-year-old woman. For as long as I can remember, my body temperature has been between 97.7 and 98 degrees F. If my temperature were 99, would that be a fever to worry about? My doctor does not seem to worry about it, even when I’m not feeling well at all. — B.C. ANSWER: The average temperature for most people is not the 98.6 that I, at least, was taught growing up. Body temperature varies during the day — it’s a bit lower in the morning and higher in the evening, but it averages about 98.2 degrees. Your observations show that your body temperatures are well within the normal variation. A temperature of 99 is not, strictly speaking, a fever. Fever normally is defined as greater than 101.5, but can be lower in people with severe disease of the immune system. Most cases of fever are temporary viral infections, but fever can be seen with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases without infection, and as a result of some medications. Equally important, it’s possible — and even likely in some cases — to have serious infection with no fever.
* * * DEAR DR. ROACH: Years ago, my husband took Lipitor, and after taking it for quite a while, his muscles and limbs developed a profound weakness; he could barely hold up a shovel and had no muscle tone. The doctor switched him to Vytorin, and it went away. Now he is experiencing similar problems after taking Vytorin for many years — his joints ache, he feels like his body is slow to follow “orders” to move and his feet hurt. Could Vytorin now be the culprit? — J.H. ANSWER: Lipitor (atorvastatin) and simvastatin are cholesterol-lowering medications in the class called statins. Vytorin is a combination of simvastatin and another, nonstatin medication called ezetimibe. Muscle aches and even muscle breakdown are uncommon (but not rare) side effects of all statin drugs. The side effect usually happens in the first six months of taking the medicine, but still can happen even after years of taking the medicine. Given your husband’s history, I would recommend talking with his doctor about stopping the medicine. Changing statins (as your husband did, from Lipitor to simvastatin) can relieve the problem sometimes.
There are other causes of joint and foot aches, and slowness in moving sounds like it might be a neurologic or rheumatologic issue rather than a side effect. But a trial off the medicine is still a good first step.
* * * DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 79-year-old male with mild Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes. I can walk about 10 feet before becoming terribly short of breath and weak. I have been this way for several years, and it has become increasingly worse. Can you help me? — K.C. ANSWER: Neither Parkinson’s disease nor Type 2 diabetes explains terrible shortness of breath on mild exertion. Severe shortness of breath can come from serious heart or lung problems (many types) or severe anemia. I can’t help: Get to your doctor right away.
* * *
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to Good Health, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
This buttery sugar cookie has a little distilled white vinegar in the dough — but no one will ever guess the secret ingredient.
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), softened 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter with sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour, vinegar and baking soda, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula, until mixed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough 1 hour, or until easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake 17 to 20 minutes, until cookies are set and edges are golden. Let cookies remain on cookie sheet 30 seconds, then with wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
• Each cookie: About 65 calories, 4g total fat (1g saturated), 0g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium.
Editors note: This recipe was not included in our print edition as it was not available at time of publication.
Grandma's Chicken Pot Pie
For you weekend warrior cooks who like to have things made up ahead of time in the freezer, this recipe is a must have!
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast 3/4 cup Bisquick Heart Smart Baking Mix 1 egg, or equivalent in egg substitute 1/4 cup Land O Lakes Fat Free Half and Half Dash paprika
1. Heat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, combine chicken soup, mixed vegetables and chicken. Cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Evenly spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl, combine baking mix, egg and half and half. Evenly pour mixture over top of chicken mixture. Lightly sprinkle paprika over top. Bake for 30 minutes. Place baking dish on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes. Divide into 6 servings.
TIPS: 1) Thaw mixed vegetables by rinsing in a colander under hot water for one minute. 2) If you don't have leftovers, purchase a chunk of cooked chicken breast from your local deli.
Wendy White, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, led a recent study that suggests eating salad greens and vegetable with added fat-in the form of soybean oil- enhances the absorption of various micronutrients that promote human health. Soybean oil is a common ingredient in commercial salad dressings.
Salad vegetables with added oil aided in the absorption of the micronutrients: alpha and beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene; two forms of vitamin E and vitamin K; and vitamin A. White said better absorption of these nutrients promotes a range of health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation.
The study also found that the amount of oil added to the vegetables had a proportional relationship with the amount of nutrient absorption. White said, “The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption.” That doesn’t mean salad eaters should drench their greens in dressing! White indicates that consumers should be comfortable with the U.S. dietary recommendation of about two tablespoons of oil per day.
The research study showed eating the same salad without the added oil lessened the likelihood that the body would absorb the nutrients. Findings from the research study were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
If you have further questions about nutrition, food safety, or health-related topics, you can speak directly with a Home Economist by calling the toll-free ISU AnswerLine. It is staffed Monday-Friday from 9 am-noon and 1-4 pm. To reach AnswerLine, call: 1.800.262.3804 (in Iowa) 1.800.854.1678 (in Minnesota) 1.800.735.2942 (Relay Iowa phone linkage for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals)
Homemade Salad Dressing
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons Serves: 21
Ingredients: 1 cup oil 1/3 cup acid, such as red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Directions: Put all ingredients into an airtight container. Secure lid and shake until the ingredients are combined. Salad dressing can be stored in the airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Tip: The size of this recipe can be adjusted up or down by keeping the same ratio of three parts oil to one part acid. For example, for a small amount of dressing, use three tablespoons of oil, one tablespoon of acid, and a pinch of each seasoning.
Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.
• “Most of my large family stays at our house on Christmas Eve. Although everyone knows where everything is located in the kitchen, it has been our custom to centralize snacks, disposable cups and silverware, canned drinks and other frequently needed items in one cabinet, so no one has to go searching. We also designate a low shelf in the refrigerator for pre-bagged kids’ snacks and juice boxes. This way the children can get a drink or snack without help. The kids love it, as it makes them feel all grown up.” -- R. B. in Pennsylvania
• Here’s how to keep grease from building up on your range hood. First wash and dry the hood very well. Then apply a thin layer of car wax. Follow wax directions and buff off with a clean, dry towel. It will keep grease from adhering, plus leaves a great shine behind.
• “Make a holiday time-capsule full of family memories. Fill a small jar with notes and tiny mementos, then tuck it at the bottom of your holiday decorations when you box them up. Open it next season when the decorations back come out.” — F.L. in Indiana
• “I have an ingenious fix if you forget your reading glasses. Take out your smartphone and use the camera viewer as a magnifying glass. Just zoom in until the words are legible. My mom does this when she’s looking at ingredients on boxes at the grocery store.” -- W.S. in Oregon
• To keep precious fresh herbs usable longer, add a good quality oil to an ice cube tray. Add herbs and freeze. When solid, pop out the cubes and transfer to a plastic baggie.
• Kitty cat or puppy dog up all night wanting to play? Schedule a play session of at least 30 minutes in the evening. It will tucker them out so you can both get some sleep.
Send your tips to Now Here’s a Tip, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.