QUESTION: My son, who is in his early 30s, was recently diagnosed as having Epstein-Barr virus. We know very little about it. For example, is it infectious? Can it be cured? He has a mild case. Does it get worse? - H.T.
ANSWER: Epstein-Barr virus is the one that causes infectious mononucleosis. Most people by the time they reach adulthood have been exposed to it. Many were so mildly affected that they perhaps do not recall the incident. Others who had a full-blown case do, of course.In any event, the virus has a way of reactivating itself years later to cause symptoms. Those are usually mild, including fatigue, slightly elevated temperature and muscle soreness. There has been an apparent rise in the numbers of people reporting this post-mono syndrome.
They do not infect others. They may have retained the virus in their bodies, and it may be that its reactivation causes the problem.
No, there is no specific treatment, for example, no drug to eliminate the virus. You can only treat the symptoms and get plenty of rest as needed. And as I said, the illness is often quite mild, with no need to expect progression to more severe symptoms.
QUESTION: I have a problem that doesn't seem to improve, and which is actually getting worse. About eight years ago an X-ray revealed a hiatal hernia. Since then, I have used several antacids, both prescription and over-the-counter ones, but nothing seems to help the gastric juice problems. I have developed a bad gall taste. It's most uncomfortable. Could you help me? - B.K.
ANSWER: Have you tried any of the non-medicine measures to control this gastric reflux (surging of stomach acid into the esophagus)? The hiatal hernia has little, really, to do with that.
There are things you can do yourself: Try to track down food offenders. Keep a record of foods that cause trouble - chocolates, peppermint, citrus foods, caffeine and alcohol, to name a few.
Lying down after eating can add to the reflux. Wearing constrictive garments or belts can make things worse. Try elevating the head of your bed with 6- or 8-inch blocks under the posts. Let me know how this works. We can go on from there. You may get some other hints from my booklet on this subject (No. 18). You can order by writing Dr. Donohue/No. 18, P.O. Box 19660, Irvine, CA 92713, enclosing a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope and $1.
QUESTION: I had a motorcycle accident a year ago. The doctor said my thigh muscles were injured. His report listed injury to the adductor muscles (mesial). What are the symptoms for those muscles? I have been wearing an ACE bandage around my thigh, but the pain is still there. Would heat or massage help? - M.B.
ANSWER: I want to preface my answer with a warning that you need a new examination. Muscle pain won't last this long unless there has been some serious damage done to them. A year is way beyond the time for healing of a minor tear, for example.
Now, the muscles referred to, the adductors, are ones that draw an arm or leg in toward the center line of the body. "Mesial" locates the muscle as on the inner side of the thigh. A symptom would be pain when, for example, trying to swing the leg over to the other one (i.e., as when crossing the leg). You don't need heat, massage or ACE bandages at this point. Nor do you need any transcontinental guesses from me. You need first-hand examination.
C) 1989 North America Syndicate Inc.