Our go-to doctor, Mehmet Oz, answers your health-related questions. (Photo by Mike Garten)

GH’s on-call doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, tackles your most pressing and frequently asked questions — including those you’re afraid to ask your own doc!

Q: Why is my phlegm green?

Dr. Oz says: If you’re coughing up phlegm, here’s what it might mean, based on the color:

Green: Likely an infection. Both viruses and bacterial infections can cause phlegm to turn this color. Call your doctor, but don’t rush to get an antibiotic — most of the time, a decongestant can help. If symptoms get worse or last longer than a week, see your doctor for the next steps.

White: Could be acid reflux, asthma, the beginnings of an infection, or another condition.

Clear: Probably allergies. If it’s bothersome, see an allergist.

Q: My periods are wonky, but I’m not trying to get pregnant. Should I worry?

Dr. Oz says: You shouldn’t worry, but you should see your doc to figure out what’s going on. If you exercise frequently and intensely, you may miss your period, and if you’re in your late 30s or your 40s, you also may be entering perimenopause. And if there’s any chance you could be pregnant, you might want to take a pregnancy test — spotting during pregnancy can be mistaken for an irregular period. But there are more concerning causes, such as a nutrition deficiency, losing too much weight too quickly or an underlying condition. See your gynecologist if:

  • It’s been 90 days since your last period.
  • You get your period less often than every 35 days.
  • You get your period more frequently than every 21 days.
  • You’ve always been regular and suddenly you’re not.
  • You’re bleeding more heavily or between cycles.
  • Your period lasts longer than a week.

Q: My husband says I kick in my sleep. Is this a medical problem?

Dr. Oz says: Probably, but (other than annoying your partner) it’s usually nothing dire. You’re likely to have periodic leg movement disorder, and you also may have restless leg syndrome. PLMD is when your legs twitch, which may make it hard to fall into the deeper REM cycle of sleep, so you wake up tired. People with RLS feel a burning or itching sensation, which gives them an overwhelming urge to move their legs. PLMD and RLS are closely related; many who have the second also have the first.

So, what can you do? Sometimes the cause is iron deficiency, and in that case getting more iron should help. To ease symptoms, exercise; go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; keep electronics out of the bedroom; nix wine before bed; and get seven to nine hours of sleep. There are prescription medications that can help, too.

Q: What is vertigo?

Dr. Oz says: Vertigo — in which you have a dizzy sensation or feel as if the room is spinning, often with nausea or other un-fun symptoms — usually is caused by what we call benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It happens when the tiny calcium particles in your inner ear that help keep you sensitive to gravity are out of place, and it’s usually triggered by being in a particular position. If you have BPPV, your doc will show you head movements you can practice that will put the crystals in your ear back in their proper location. Less commonly, vertigo also can result from an infection or another condition, so don’t try to fix it yourself.

Q: Does “intermittent fasting” work for losing weight?

Dr. Oz says: It does, but it’s hard for many people to stick to. First, the facts: There’s some pretty good evidence out there that intermittent fasting does work for weight loss, and calorie restriction in general has been linked to healthier aging. One study showed that those who did a modified fast five days in a row every month for three months had lower BMI and blood pressure, higher insulin sensitivity and lower bad cholesterol.


Ask the GH Cleaning Lab

Here are our best tips and favorite tricks to conquer your toughest messes and trouble spots.

Q: Why don’t labels on cleansers list all ingredients?

A: Manufacturers haven’t been required by law to provide a list — until now! With consumers more concerned about what’s in products, many companies are now voluntarily disclosing the info.

Kudos to Cali: California recently passed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017. This will require companies to identify ingredients, especially hazardous ones. Information must be online by 2020 and on packages by 2021. New York is considering similar legislation.

What you can do: Be an informed consumer by choosing brands that opt to list ingredients. For searches online, type in the product name plus “ingredients.”

Q: How do I remove salt stains from leather winter boots?

A: Those white lines or rings appear when road salt begins to dry on wet leather. An easy DIY for smooth leather (not suede): Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Dip a cloth into the solution and dab the stains to dissolve the salt. Rinse the leather with a new, damp cloth and wipe dry. Allow boots to air-dry, then polish and buff them. Next time you have snowy boots, immediately wipe them with a damp sponge to remove excess salt.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, (800) 638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


VTech Shake & Sing Elephant Rattles, sold at Walmart, Kmart, Meijer, Mills Fleet Farm, Seventh Avenue, and online at and from November 2015 through November 2017 for about $8.

The ears on the elephant rattles can break off, posing a choking hazard to young children. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled rattles and contact VTech for a full refund or credit for a replacement product. Contact VTech at (800) 521-2010 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST Monday through Friday or online at Click on “Support” for more information, or navigate to support/support_form.

Mercedes-Benz 2017 E300, S65 AMG Coupe, S550, S65 AMG Cabriolet, S550 Cabriolet, S550e, S65 AMG and Mercedes-Maybach S600

A transistor within the power-steering control unit may overheat, resulting in the power-steering system being disabled. If the power-steering assist is unexpectedly disabled, it may increase the risk of a crash. MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the steering rack and provide a free replacement. The recall is expected to begin in January 2018. Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at (877) 496-3691.

© Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate