PETER H. GOTT, M.D. Capital-Journal

DEAR DR. GOTT: My 7-year-old son experiences vivid, recurring nightmares and is now afraid to fall asleep. I have tried to reason with him and have even encouraged him to “think happy thoughts” at bedtime. My psychology hasn’t worked. What do you suggest?

DEAR READER: Nightmares are common in children and often reflect tensions and stresses of which parents are unaware. I suggest you address this problem with your son’s pediatrician. The doctor who is most familiar with your son can offer the best advice.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I required a circumcision at age 42 because of a chronic infection. In the six months since the operation, I have been unable to reach climax. Can you explain this?

DEAR READER: No, I can’t. Uncomplicated circumcision shouldn’t affect your sexual ability or interest. Ask your surgeon to explain why you are experiencing difficulty — or ask him to refer you to a urologist for a diagnosis.

DEAR DR. GOTT: My mother is convinced that my contact lenses will scratch my eyes and ultimately blind me. Is she right?

DEAR READER: Not exactly. When properly fitted, cleaned and maintained, contact lenses are safe and won’t impair vision. However, contact lenses can cause problems if they are poorly contoured to the eye or are worn too long. In such cases, lenses can cause corneal abrasions that are exceedingly uncomfortable. Furthermore, some people may become allergic to the lens cleaning solution, leading to pronounced eye irritation.

In theory, corneal abrasions and allergic reactions could, if left untreated, affect vision. In my experience, this is a rare occurrence. For the vast majority of people under the care of ophthalmologists, contact lenses are a safe and convenient alternative to traditional glasses. Perhaps your mother would feel more comfortable chatting about this with an eye specialist.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 11 years old and have warts on my thumbs. How do I get rid of them?

DEAR READER: Warts are the result of a particular virus infection of the skin. They often disappear on their own without treatment. Commercially available wart-removing compounds, such as Vergo, may be useful if the warts persist or return. In such instances, you might ask your parents to take you to a dermatologist who could remove the warts or give you further information about getting rid of them.

DEAR DR. GOTT: My 26-year-old husband is manic-depressive, on lithium daily since age 17. Although his illness seems to be under satisfactory control, I worry about our children, 3 1/2 and 2. Are there blood tests they can take to see if they have inherited my husband’s condition?

DEAR READER: Unfortunately, there are no blood tests that measure a predisposition to manic depression, the wide mood swings that accompany bipolar mood disorders. Aside from having your children undergo regular checkups with their pediatrician, I am unaware of any reliable preventive or predictive test that might help you deal with the possibility that your children have inherited a tendency to an emotional affliction.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Please comment on animal experimentation. I am against the practice because animals are different from humans in every respect. An artificially induced disease in a healthy animal can in no way be the same as the disease in humans.

DEAR READER: Actually, the biological systems of many animals are quite similar to those of humans. Consequently, I think that medical procedures and treatments should be tried first on animals. In my opinion, the problems of using experimental animals arise from the experimental model itself.

Experiments must be performed in a manner that will yield the least pain and suffering. Much of the public outcry against animal experimentation has been directed against unethical scientists who have treated their subjects in brutal and insensitive ways. For example, there is simply no rational justification for the practice of testing irritating cosmetics on the eyes of living, unanesthetized rabbits or of treating live animals in other inhumane fashions.

There are now enforceable restrictions and guidelines to prevent researchers from mistreating animals. Of course, a few scientists continue to ignore or bypass these rules but, for the most part, investigators now adhere to the rules and treat their animals with more respect.

Certain people still abhor the very principle of animal experimentation. While I understand and sympathize with their views, such anti-experimentalists often fail to recognize that almost every valid medical treatment was, at one time, perfected in animals before being tried in humans. We enjoy the benefits of today’s wonder drugs because of yesterday’s animal experimentation. Truly, many of us owe our lives to these animals. Until synthetic experimental systems — such as computer models — are more widely developed, scientists will continue to use animals. However, we need to ensure that such animals aren’t mistreated; each of us has an obligation in this regard.

I believe that an across-the-board prohibition of animal experimentation would lead to a complete shutdown of scientific advances. I say this because animal tissues usually respond identically to their human counterparts; animals, from a biological standpoint, are really quite similar to us. Perhaps this is one reason that we feel such a close kinship to animals — and why animal experimentation is such an emotionally charged, ethical issue.

Newspaper Enterprise Association

Copyright 2000

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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