Monday, November 30, 2015

Despite pre-travel advice, people getting just as ill

You've heard all the advice, I am sure. Drink bottled water, don't eat street food, eat fruit with an intact peel only, on and on.

But, despite all this, researchers at the Umea University in Sweden say, people are getting sick at the same rate they always did, risk-taking younger people the most, older people the least.

Diarrhea and respiratory diseases lead the list.

Health care students got sick the most often, despite the most advice beforehand. They took more risks and encountered resistant bacteria.

One reason given for the fairly constant rate of illness among travelers was poor restaurant hygiene. Guess you can't count on everything being boiled to a fare-thee-well.

Friday, November 27, 2015 dentist

I hate going to the doc and the dentist because I need to find a ride and then walk long distances on my horrible knees. I stall, dread, and blow off.

However, Case Western Reserve's School of Dentistry has renovated a 38-foot van into a dentist's office.

Dental students, supervised by faulty, provide oral exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, dentures, extractions, and cancer screenings for older people, many of whom had not seen a dentist in years.

They set up outside senior centers and assisted living--and for those who can't get into the van, they set up chairs inside.

Among dentists, the notion that seniors are harder to treat, the program's leader says. He says they want to take dentists out of their comfort zone of ignoring seniors.

Time was, he adds, old people just lost their teeth...But now, more of them are keeping more of their teeth and need specialized care.

I have used mobile pet grooming in a truck outside in front--why not a dentist?

PS I still hate that word "senior"--I always think of high school.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pumpkin dog cookies

Over the hols, we must remember our furry buds. Not that they would let us forget. My cat was SQUACKING like mad this morning.

So while you are whipping up holiday treats, make some Pumpkin Treats for Fido (how come no dogs are ever named Fido or Rover, yet those are the typical go-to name for dogs?).

Some veterinarians at Colorado State approved this recipe.

2-3 slices of bacon (if your dog is chubby, you can omit)

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

2 eggs

1 cup whole oats

2-12/ cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (lets me out--no idea what that is)

Heat a large skillet. Add bacon and brown it  until crispy (6-8 mins).

Crumble it up and keep the extra fat.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, and bacon fat. Add the oats and 2 cups of the flour. Mix, then add the rest of the flour until dough is no longer sticky.  Blend in the bacon.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead it few times to make it pliable, then roll out to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out shapes with a cutter or knife and place them on the baking sheet.

Bake until edges are golden brown--20-25 mins.  Cool before "serving" to er...Fido.

As for the human treats--no chocolate for dogs! No raw dough--uncooked yeast can upset their insides.

No grapes, raisins or nuts! Grapes can even cause kidney failure.

No xylitol--this sweetener can lead to liver failure in dogs.

No ham--too salty.

Keep the turkey carcass away from pets. Wolfing down fatty leftovers can lead to pancreatitis.

Oh, well--the mutts can console themselves with the special cookies. Doesn't sound too bad.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baby bed bumpers

You know what bumpers are--those pillowy strips you tie around the crib bars encircling the tot. My daughter had some darling ones with alligators on them (we were very cynical in those days--more than now even).

Problem is, even a baby a few days old will squirm their way to the sides to get their head against something solid--and those loosely tied bumpers can tangle the child into the folds and...well, not good.

Deaths and injuries due to this bedding are up, according to a professor emeritus of pediatrics and two researchers with the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Bumpers caused more tragedies than blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals.

Still, the numbers are low--two digits, maybe a few a year. But the researchers say this data is not reliable. (J of Pediatrics, Nov 24, 2105)

When the baby's mouth and nose are covered with a bumper, they can suffocate or expire from breathing oxygen-depleted air. Or get brain damage from the latter.

At first, bumpers were used to keep a baby's head from getting caught in the slats of the crib.  Since 1973, though, requirements are that the slats be close enough together that a head cannot get through.

Which reminds me--if Grandma is getting an old crib out of the attic for a holiday visit--say something.

And don't just put in crib bumpers, either. They are even banned for sale in Maryland and the city of Chicago.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A doc talks cold weather and viruses

Donald Kennedy, MD, a professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University, says there may never be a "cure" for the common cold because it doesn't kill or even affect the economy much, since most people work despite having one.

Also--there are many viruses that can cause colds--so there is not just one to focus on.

Colds can come at any time of year--but seasonal influenza is different. It usually hits for six weeks between Oct and Feb (in the US), and infects 60 to 70 million people a year. Forty thousand die of it.

What is the difference between flu and a cold? Kennedy says if you have to ask, you don't have flu.

Flu makes you feverish, with chills, muscles aches all over, fatigue, cough, sore throat and a headache.

The term "feel like crap" was invented for flu.

You can get some of these with parainfluenza, too--usually children or older adults. The flu shot does not prevent this.

Should you stay home? If you have a cold, wash your hands a lot, bring your tissues, and carry on, Kennedy says.

What about with the flu or that para stuff? Fever over 100.5--significant. You may need to stay home also if you are completely miserable. How considerate of your workers are you? You decide. Could you really get a lot done at work?

Why does this stuff hit in winter? Kennedy thinks maybe because we are indoors more...but no one knows.

Why are some people sicker than others with the flu? It depends on how much virus you get--sitting next to someone on the bus may give you some, sleeping next to someone will give you a lot more. If you are run down or have a weakened immune system, you are likely to get sicker.

What about Tamiflu or Relenza? Taken early these reduce symptoms slightly, Kennedy says. But the viruses are getting resistant.

So how does that shot look now?