QUESTION: The roof of my mouth and my tongue have been sore for about five months. I have been to three different doctors in the last three months, and they all just look in my mouth and say everything looks normal. One doctor said I had glossitis. I would like your opinion. - Mrs. B.D.
ANSWER: I have to assume that after having seen three doctors, you can assume that nothing serious is going on. Glossitis is a very broad diagnosis. It means tongue inflammation. A painful tongue is called glossodynia.You need more than general terms. Can I presume that you were checked for a vitamin deficiency? That's not common in this part of the world but is seen in special cases. Also, overly acid foods can cause glossodynia. Sometimes a sore tongue appears as the only sign of an allergy.
I wish I knew your age. Often, tongue symptoms like yours can occur to women after menopause because of the sudden loss of hormone balance. The mouth and tongue can appear to be altogether normal.
What to do? Has a numbing rinse been suggested? That and making a careful analysis of food and allergy possibilities is about all you can do. I will have the menopause report sent along so you can read up on that possibility, if you are of that age. Other readers may order by writing: Dr. Donohue/No.21, Box 830, Gibbstown, NJ 08027-9909, enclosing a long, double-stamped, self-addressed envelope.
QUESTION: I'm a 29-year-old woman who had her tubes tied seven years ago and was wondering if it is too late to have them reversed. Also, what is the normal procedure for such an operation? - D.C.
ANSWER: It is not too late to get an opinion about restoring the tubes. Success can't be guaranteed, for besides length of time closed, reopening depends on such things as the procedure used and where along their length it was done. This is a delicate microscope-aided surgery.
Women in your situation who find such surgery impractical sometimes turn to alternatives such as in vitro fertilization with subsequent embryo transfer.
Another reader, Mrs. L.T., desperately wants me to explain this procedure.
Here's a simplified explanation. The prospective mother's ovaries are stimulated to release eggs. Those eggs are then removed from the scene with a laparoscope and placed in a glass dish. The father's sperm is then introduced and fertilization allowed to take place. The fertilized egg is then transferred back into the woman's uterus for natural development.
QUESTION: At our senior citizen screening service, I was told my hemoglobin was low. What medication can you suggest to increase my hemoglobin? I am 82 and in good health. - B.P.
ANSWER: Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells. A low hemoglobin test result means, quite simply, a way of saying that the person is anemic. Just how severe the anemia is depends on the test numbers. You don't have to prescribe medicine until you've looked at a lot of other things having to do with anemia.
Very often, people your age slip into anemia without sensing it's happening. Minimal and silent bleeding (as from the GI tract) can cause it. In others iron deficiency is to blame. What I am saying is that hemoglobin testing is only the beginning of anemia diagnosis. I hope I've made the point convincingly enough to get you in to the doctor's office for an evaluation of your screening result.
Dr. Donohue welcomes reader mail but regrets that, due to the tremendous volume received daily, he is unable to answer individual letters. Readers' questions are incorporated in his column whenever possible.