Dear Dr. Roach:I am a woman who just turned 75, and I have a chronic dry cough. I visited my pulmonary doctor, and he diagnosed bronchiectasis. There is no cure, but there are herbal products, such as Creseton. They claim to have a 90 percent cure rate, which is better than no cure at all. Can you give me any suggestions or have you heard about the herbal products? — P.N.
Answer: Bronchiectasis is an uncommon lung condition in North America. It is a reaction to previous infection with a scarring process in the small airways. It is similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s more common in women and certain ethnic groups, or in conjunction with conditions like cystic fibrosis or alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. There is no way to reverse the scarring in the lungs once it occurs, but exacerbation of the disease can be both treated and sometimes prevented with antibiotics.
I looked up Creseton, and the company reported good results from its own, unpublished study. I can’t recommend the product on the basis of what the maker reported. I would like to believe it, but if something sounds too good to be true, it might be.
Dear Dr. Roach: I recently read that many doctors and nurses have low-frequency hearing loss, resulting in a falsely elevated blood pressure measurement compared with an automated blood pressure machine. Please comment. — P.I.
Answer: Accurately measuring blood pressure is very important, and there are several concerns. For the best accuracy, the blood pressure should be taken seated, with a manual mercury device using a properly sized cuff, three times, and the average recorded (as I learned years ago: thanks, Dr. William Elliott). Only very advanced automated models, costing up to thousands of dollars, can approach the accuracy of a trained clinician.