Friday, February 28, 2014

Another thing that blows--chipped teeth

The WSJ, Feb 11, 2014, discussed what makes teeth chip? Besides a hockey puck in the face.

Enamel is brittle and slivers can cleave off. Front teeth "kind of hang out there" (dental term of art) so they are vulnerable.

Back teeth get it from crunchy foods as a rule.

Dental work can also weaken teeth.

If it's just chipped and doesn't hurt, it's a cosmetic decision.

Wait--any crack should be looked at they also say. A crack may widen and get to the painful area.

If a crack is jagged, cover it with sugar-free gum, one dentist said. Do not file it down at home. Well, it's
tiny," maybe--with a non-metal emery board.

If a big chunk falls off--do not put it in milk. That advice is no longer trendy. Place it under your tongue.

As for avoiding this, if you play sports get a mouth guard. Also-Jolly Ranchers are a no-no.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Infrared thermometers--OK for kids?

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say (when SNL was funny), "It's always somethin.'"

The other day, I read docs should take your BP in both arms and compare it. It you are old and there is a big difference between the arms, you are doomed, or something--I glazed over. I can hardly get these people to take it by hand (not the sadistic auto-crusher) and get a reading on one arm!

Now, Laura Johannes, WSJ, Feb 18, 2014, says some people consider getting kids to sit still for 2 mins with a thermometer under their tongue is an awful ordeal. So what about those thermometers you swipe across the forehead or just wave at the kid?

Turns out the rascals can foil those, too--by squirming and fidgeting.

The forehead has the temporal artery underneath--warm blood to be measured.

But--if the kid is sweating, the forehead skin can get cooled--bad reading.

The gold standard--the beloved rectal thermometer. The "normal" reading is higher.

Tell the doctor which thermometer you used.

I also heard they don't think 98.6 is "normal" anymore. Make up your minds, people!

To me, you can put your hand on a kid's head and tell. Also their eyes look "funny."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When it's cool to be cold

Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, Feb 18, 2014, takes on the subject of kids--and how mad parents should get if they don't want to bundle up on cold days.

I remember snow pants! Do they even have those anymore? But I digress.

Teens are the worst for waltzing out the door in a thin letter jacket or something and no hat.

Kids' hearts do beat faster--but they have the same body temp as an adult and more surface area to inner area.

If kids don't wear enough outer clothing, they may get irritable. Well, whatever, in my opinion.

The experts say help kids layer up--maybe with "cool" sportswear. Like at the Olys.

I say let the little dopes get cold--they will do something about it if they are miserable enough. Of course, they may conceal those long johns under their jeans just to annoy you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Workaholic boss, sleepaholic employee

Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, Feb 19, 2014, takes on the issue of what you should do if you have a nutty boss who stays at the office until all hours.

Should you sneak out? Leave your coat on the chair as if you are there and coming back to your desk?

Well, first, you should concentrate on reinforcing how much work you are doing and how well.

Still, workers do tend to be putting in more hours these days. This may include bosses--but don't make a mistake about why they are there--maybe they think everyone should follow suit--or maybe they just don't want to go home.

Employees should be willing to stay late in emergencies. (Leaving your coat is a bush move--people may waste time looking for you.)

You may want to concentrate your hours at times when people are there to see you.

If all this does not work and the boss does not cut you a break, you may want to move on to a move civilized place..

Monday, February 24, 2014

Despite law, preggos still getting fired

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant.

But it still happens.

This according to Reginald Byron, assistant prof of sociology at Southwestern Univ and Vincent Roscigno, prof of sociology at Ohio State.

To get around the law, some employers attack pregnant women as poor performers, or habitually late or some other dodge.

The findings appear in the Feb issue of Gender and Society.

The two profs looked at 70 cases of pregnancy-based discrimination handled by t he Ohio Civil Rights Commission between 1986 and 2003.

--Pregnancy accounted for 40% of gender-related firings.

--Poor performance was given as the reason in 30% of cases.

--Poor attendance and tardiness were excuses in another 15%.

--10% invoked business needs, profit and efficiency. do the math. In one case, one of three assistant managers was let go after she got pregnant--the company said they needed to cut back to two assistant managers. Then they hired a man as assistant manager.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Should docs box-check or heal?

Victoria McEvoy, MD, assistant prof of pediatrics at Harvard, wrote in the WSJ, Feb 13, 2014, that her time it taken up with checklists and metrics created by people who aren't doctors.  These are aimed at spending money wisely, not time.

Pre-op checklists, length of stay goals, handwashing requirements--all improve health care. But they are  not substitutes for excellence.

She said primary care docs are deluged with checkboxes--is the child fat, then a doublecheck on that, counseling needs to be checked and done, if the kid has asthma, another box. Flu shot compliance. An goes on and on.

Doctors are also now asked to find out if there is a gun in the house, domestic violence, childproofing, proper nutrition, exercise, school performance, safe sex, bullying, smoking, drinking, drugs, proper sleep...on and on.

One doctor goal is to make sure kids get a well-child visit at age 3--why isn't that the parents' responsibility, not the doctor's?

Doctors do get paid more to do this--rewarded, that is. Which may be why doctors ask how you are. I know, that is cynical.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Memories--of youth

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire say that by the time people are 25, they have made the most important memories of their life.

They base this on asking older adults to tell their life stories--and the transitions were their strongest memories--many of which occurred in the beginning of their lives--marriage, children, etc.

Other memorable transitions--moving, college, first job, military service.

This is based on 34 members of an active retirement community. All participants were white, 76% had at least an undergrad degree.

They found a big reminiscence bump between 17 and 24. This is a term for a time where there were a lot of memories.

What is it about 15-30 that is so memorable?

Do you think this is even true? I sometimes mull over past events--and they are from 35ish and up. My twenties were party time--I had a big job, money, no responsibilities. Then the real stuff started.

How about you?

Maybe the people they asked just remembered earlier stuff better--saving it out to the disk.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Doctor ratings--entertaining or useful?

So far, I am not impressed with the Yelp (and RateMDs and Healthgrades) type reviews of doctors--but I do post and read them.

Now, with more Americans losing their docs, more and more are trying to find someone else reputable with an efficient office and a decent education.  Apparently, according to one survey, two-thirds of Americans know rating sites exist. For two-thirds of Americans to know ANYTHING is huge.

In this study, 35% picked a doctor because of a good rating, and 37% avoided one because of a bad rating. What did the other ones do--shrug?

No one knows how reliable these ratings are--surely one bad review can give a doc a bad rating--this may not be fair.

Some sites such as Healthgrades has patients rate docs on many markers--communication skills, friendliness of staff, how easy it is to get an urgent appointment, etc. The written reviews from patients are given less weight.

Stats show most people ask their friends and relatives for a recommendation. I don't do that--my sister is alll about whether a doctor is "nice." I tend to want smart and "gets me."

It's all pretty sketchy.

I have seen reviews that say: "No wonder there is no ring on her finger" and another one, "Go after lunch--he takes his antidepressants at lunch."

Yeah, maybe I will stay sick.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not so fast on new over-active bladder med

You've seen the commercials--poor old Mom has to make Dad stop the family car half a dozen times for her "issues." (What era are we in--Dad driving, Mom peeing.)

Last fall, an over-the-counter thing called The Oxytrol for Women, a patch to prevent those repeated pit stops, hit the drugstore shelves.

But Consumer Reports says don't get too excited. These drugs don't work too well. Only a few people get complete relief from symptoms--and the drugs can cause blurred vision, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth and even mental confusion.

Oh--no--you need to go, now where is that darn bathroom?

You may want to ask your doctor about trying Detrol first--or prescription oxybutynin. The latter has a lot of side effects, though.

What if you don't even have over-active bladder--have the doc rule out Parkinson's, MS, kidney stones and other possible problems.

Or you could cut out liquids close to bedtime and do your Kegels.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Parents: Question CT scans for possible appendicitis

It's scary when your child is grimaciing or screaming in pain and the ER bustles around you, but Mount Sinai researchers say a simple ultrasound (no radiation like a CT scan) can catch 94% of childhood appendicitis cases.

An inflamed appendix is the most common surgical problem involving kids in the ER.

Radiation from CT scans adds up and cause cancer later. Four million CT scans are done on children each year, and this is an effort to cut those numbers.

The ultrasounding decreased the ER stay by almost half.

The pediatric ER doctors learned to read the ultrasound as well as radiologists.

So...CT scans now should be questioned for head bumps and for sore tummies.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Manga comics can make you healthier

In a pilot study in Brooklyn, minority students exposed to Manga (Japanese comic art) promoting fruit intake selected better snacks.

Well, duh---we should all read more comics.

Snacks, pointed out the lead researcher at the New York School of Public Health and Hunter College, constitute 27% of young people's intake.

The study was set in two after-school programs in the summer and fall of 2011. The kids were about 11--890% African-American or Hispanic, 54% female.

Manga is intensely involving--kids get immersed the graphic and text story.

One group read a Manga comic titled "Fight for Your Right to Fruit," the others a non-health related comic. The groups were offered snacks--either oranges, apples and other fruit, or chips and crackers. Sixty-one percent of the fruit manga group picked fruit as opposed to 35% of the non-fruit group.

More comics! I am onboard--we all need to read more comics. And eat more fruit.

Papaya, anyone?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Great--now weather gives you a stroke, sorta maybe

In a study at Yale, as reported by Marilynn Marchione, AP, there "may" be a link between weather and having a stroke.

So far as I can see, there is a link between everything and having a stroke--or am I too sensitive?

Yale, Harvard, and Duke worked on this--not dummy schools. They looked at millions of records and found a seasonal trend to strokes.

--Blood vessels constrict in cold weather, which can raise BP. Your body clamps down, the docs said. Clamps down? Oh, well, they are doctors.

--High humidity can cause dehydration--thicker blood? Clot?

But they also decided higher stroke rates in Medicare patients in winter, lower in summer. This was an earlier study.

Now they seem to think stroke risk rises as temperature does.

Oh, for heaven's sakes--which is it? They say to stay at a constant temp  indoors, especially in winter.

Will get right on that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snooze you lose

Ah, ye olde snooze alarm. BAM! Seven more minutes of bliss. BAM!

A new Turner website called says the beloved button is actually bad for you.

If you get back into sleep mode for a short time, you are groggier, and less productive.

First, says one sleep guy, your little dab of sleep is of poor quality. But you also start yourself back into a sleep cycle that you don't finish.  This upsets you throughout the day.

You will get (ominous music) sleep inertia.

It can take more than an hour--even with a shower--to shake off sleep inertia.

Better to get enough quality sleep--no electronics, dark room, enough hours. Put your clock where you have to get up to turn it off.

Then get up.

Aw, what to these people know anyhow. By the way--this upwave thing? They say they will "entertain the health right into you." I thought that was my job.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Surgical mask for your toothbrush

Ever read those freaky articles about how toilets spray an invisible Mist of Death when they flush and it gets all over your toothbrush, which is sitting there all innocent, clean, and cute?


Well, you're reading one.

It's not just the toilet, either. If you store it next to other toothbrushes--well, you're gonna die.

But--don't panic--there is a new product call IntelliDent. It's a toothbrush shield.

Lab tests show it keeps off 99.9% of airborne and surface bacteria.

Travel, work, it goes everywhere.

You use it up to 7 days and toss it. A 10-pak is $6.

What do you think? It's your life...

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to keep the good stuff going

Every romance has a curve--hot, breathless, leading to happy/comfortable, then maybe if you don't watch it, child-centered or blah.

You need to skip the last step. And be realistic--the first smoochy, hot phase is not going to continue automatically. But you can fluff it back into being if you try.

Researchers at the University of Toronto determined that the best way to do that is to put the other person's needs first.

Dr. Larisa Wainer, of the Morris Psychological Group in Parsipanny, NJ, has some tips:

Touch--reach out and hug. Take each other's arm when walking outside. Cuddle before sleep.

Plain encounters ahead--bring home flowers, ditch the sweats.

Say thank you--just because you are together does not eliminate the need for manners.

Talk about sex--share fantasies.

And fight fair--listen, don't interrupt. And don't get into old territory using phrases like "you always" or "you never."

Sounds so easy. But it's the work of a lifetime to make it happen.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Here kitty, kitty--YOW!

Middle-aged women are the most likely victims of cat bites--shocker!

But here is a shocking statistic--one in three of those bites warrants hospitalization, according to the Mayo Clinic..

Cats' teeth inject bacteria deep into joints and tissue. When the organisms get into the tendon sheaths, they are shielded from the immune system.

When a bite is that bad, it needs to be flushed out and the infected tissue removed.

Bites on the wrist or fingers, especially joints, are especially bad and carry a higher risk of hospitalization.

I have a Flamepoint Siamese like the one  in the pix (although we took away his guns). He bit me several times, once so bad my hand looked like an olive green boxing glove. I had to get a tetanus shot.

So, if Mr Puss gives you a nip--you may need it tended to. Don't be a hero.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Couples may benefit from the movie cure

Did you know there is a three-year divorce rate? I guess this is when couples start taking for granted, resenting their set roles, or start yelling at the person they love the most.

Ronald Rogge, associate prof of psychology, and his team, did a study of newlyweds (Dec issue of J of Consulting and Clinical Psych). They divided newlyweds into conflict management classes, compassion and acceptance training, and awareness through film.

The first two groups met with professionals for practice sessions and did homework. The movie group was self-directed and took less time.

The couples watched TWO FOR THE ROAD, a 1967 comedy about a 12-yr relationship and how it evolved. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY was another one.

They also got a list of 47 movies featuring intimate relationships and were told to watch one a week for a month and discuss for 45 minutes.

All three groups cut divorce to 11% compared with 24% in the control group.

The advantage of the movie thing is it's easy, not threatening, recreational, fun. And there can be popcorn. I added the popcorn.

I would say if you can get a guy to watch four chick flicks a month, you may not be getting divorced anyhow--but you know how I am.

You can find the movie list at http://www/

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Now the lab can send you test results directly

Skip the middleman or woman known as the physician. Now, under the administration's direction, labs can send you your test results directly without the doctor approving it.

I always get mine sent--but from the doctor. Apparently 13 states prevent labs from sending them directly--but now they can.

It has long been known that some results fell in the cracks. Supposedly 7% of negative results never were reported to patients. I have read higher precentages.

No news is not good news--there are many ways results can go astray. I have written about this.

But how will people react to the report--with "ABNORMAL" written in red?

The administration says patients "are grownup and smart." Well, I wonder.

I do this for a living, but I still want a doc to look it over. What do you think?

At very least, readers, I urge you to call for results if the doctor's office does not call you. Close the loop.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Oh, NOW what? Canker sores

According to Wendy Stern, MD, an ear-nose-and-throat doc at the South Coast Hospital Group (WSJ, Jan 28, 2014), 80% of adults, more women than men, get canker sores at least once.

These are irritating mouth ulcers. They occur in the soft tissue--if there is bone underneath, it's not a canker sore. The are shaped like a shallow crater.

They go away on their own in five to 10 days.

Some people are prone, some are not. Canker sores do not mean an underlying health issue. Usually they are caused by nicking the tissue, say with crunchy nuts, or irritating it with citrus.

(Cold sores are mostly on the lips and are caused by a version of the herpes virus. These should be treated with an antiviral cream and you should wash your hands after touching them.)

If you have a lot of canker sores and they hurt, you can mix some baking soda and salt into water and "swish."

Or you can mix liquid antacid and liquid Benadryl with water.

Avoid over-the-counter mouthwashes--these can irritate the already irritated.

Do you need a doc? Nah--unless the thing lingers more than two weeks. Then--you decide.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Children can get chest pains from panic attacks

In the current issue of Child Psychiatry and Human Development is a study done in Israel of 132 children and adolescents presenting with chest pain in ERs in NYC.

Besides heart checkups, the kids with chest pains were rated for panic and mood disorders on a scale from zero to 8. Both the kids and the parents were questioned, but separately.

A fifth of the kids had a 4 or better, suggesting a panic attack or panic disorder. Another 12% rated a 3.

Adults with panic disorder often report non-cardiac chest pain, but it was considered less likely to be from panic disorder in children.

Apparently kids get it, too.

Something to keep in mind, I guess.