Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga, a journalist with more than two decades of professional experience, has written for dozens of magazines, newspapers and online news sites. He is immediate past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

If you think Viagra is the only way to deal with erectile dysfunction, think again. Here are six ED options, including their pros and cons. In 1993, researchers were just about ready to give up on an experimental high blood pressure drug. Then they asked a group of British miners who’d been taking it if they’d noticed anything unusual. They sure had: The men reported having more erections. Five years later, in 1998, a little blue pill called Viagra (sildenafil) revolutionized the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), formerly known as impotence. Now, it might seem that every man with ED…

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The anesthetic ketamine is increasingly being used off-label for depression. The drug seems to work rapidly, but its long-term side effects are unknown. Two decades ago, ketamine was known as two things: an anesthetic used in pet surgery and a party drug nicknamed “special K” that was popular at raves. Now, it’s the hottest new treatment for depression that hasn’t responded despite psychotherapy or antidepressants. How hot? Very. Dozens of ketamine clinics have popped up across the United States over the past few years, offering hope to people whose depression doesn’t respond to treatment. You’ll find them offering infusions everywhere…

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Kratom sounds like it could be kryptonite’s second cousin. In fact, it’s an herbal supplement that’s said to have some pretty extraordinary superpowers. According to its fans, kratom can reduce pain and help drug users recover from addiction. But critics say it’s a dangerous opioid just like heroin and oxycodone, and they want the federal government to ban it. Some states and cities have already done just that. Kratom, an herbal medicine derived from the leaves of a tree found in Southeast Asia, is easy to find in much of the US. In many places, all you need…

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Statins are used to lower cholesterol, but some people have side effects or don’t want to take meds. Find out about alternatives and their effectiveness. More than 30 years have passed since the first cholesterol-busting statin drug hit the market in the United States, and the medications remain blockbusters. If you’re an older American, there’s a good chance you take one to lower your risk of heart attack. A 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found 28% of Americans 40 and over take a statin. In general, the drugs — including Lipitor (atorvastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin)…

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If you have nail fungus, you’re eager to get rid of the icky stuff. There are lots of treatments, but some are more effective and have fewer side effects. Sandals are out of the question for millions of Americans, and these folks are about as likely to go barefoot in public as perform a pirouette on the subway. Why the cover-up? Because they have toenail fungus, an extremely common condition that disfigures the nails. Some people choose to do nothing about infected nails that are thick, brittle, discolored and prone to crumbling. Indeed, “most non-diabetic people can live with untreated…

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Of all common medical procedures, colonoscopies stand out because of all the sitting that’s involved. Patients must chug a foul-tasting laxative drink as part of their prep and then spend hours on or near the toilet. It’s an awkward, disgusting and explosive experience. So it’s no surprise that many people skip recommended colonoscopies. The good news: In many cases, patients can turn to alternatives that are also effective but much easier to tolerate. “The most important thing is for patients and individuals to pursue screening,” said gastroenterologist Fola May, MD, PhD, of the University of California at Los Angeles. “The…

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Geriatric physician Michael Steinman, MD, says there’s an old saying about seniors who feel sick. “Any symptom in an older adult is a medication side effect until proven otherwise.” In other words, what’s ailing you may be the same thing that’s supposed to make you feel better. Of course, people often put up with side effects because the drugs they take will help them in the long term. But what if a patient is expected to die within months or a year or 2 at most? “It’s common for people who are nearing the end of life to be on…

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