Q. Does getting older make your mouth dry?
Most dry mouth is related to the medications taken by older adults rather than to the effects of aging. More than 400 medicines can affect the salivary glands. These include drugs for urinary incontinence, allergies, high blood pressure, depression, diarrhea and Parkinson's disease. Also, some over-the-counter medications often cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth can also be caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, nerve damage in the head or neck, the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome, endocrine disorders, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, anxiety disorders and depression.
Sjögren's syndrome can occur either by itself or with another autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Salivary and tear glands are the major targets of the syndrome. The result of the syndrome is a decrease in production of saliva and tears. The disorder can occur at any age, but the average person with the disorder at the Sjögren's Syndrome Clinic of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is in his or her late 50s. Women with the disorder outnumber men 9 to 1.
Q. What causes most cancer deaths?
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. It occurs most often between the ages of 55 and 65.
There are two major types of lung cancer — non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways, and each is treated differently.
Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. Doctors treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer in several ways. Surgery is a common treatment. Doctors may also use radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Small cell lung cancer grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body. In order to reach cancer cells throughout the body, doctors almost always use chemotherapy. Treatment for small cell lung cancer may also include radiation therapy aimed at tumors.
Q. Who is at the highest risk of getting osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. This condition creates an increased risk of fractures.
The chances are greater if you are a woman. Women have less bone tissue and lose bone faster than men because of changes from menopause. Small, thin-boned women are at greater risk. Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk. Age is a major risk factor because bones become thinner and weaker as you age. Heredity can also increase fracture risk.
Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans; about 68 percent of them are women. One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to determine your bone health. BMD tests can identify osteoporosis, determine your risk for fractures, and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment.