The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 31, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, October 31, 1996
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Page 11
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THURSDAY OCTOBER 31, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL Health NEWS / C2 MONEY / C3 CLASSIFIED / C4 c BRIEFLY Tongue can tell many tales about ill health AMSTERDAM — Stick out your tongue. Did you know that this flexible, often overlooked and indispensable body part can be a road map to your health? Isaac Van Der Waal, Ph.D., who has studied oncology for 30 years at the Amsterdam Free University Hospital in the Netherlands, says, "The tongue is the favorite place where oral cancer takes root." According to the American Dental Association, this puts an extra amount of responsibility on dentists, who should not only examine patients' teeth, but also alert them to precancerous lesions on the tongue. "Sometimes patients will get markers for HIV on the border of the tongue." advised Van Der Waal. Dentist says sweet tooth not so awful Sugar may be losing its reputation as Public Enemy No. 1 in the dentist's office. According to Dr. Warren Karp, dental disease is more likely to stalk those who snack on junk foods all day long. "There are even times when I'd recommend that a person eat something with a little sugar in it rather eat food high in fat or cholesterol," said Karp. The American Dental Association recommends dentists make efforts to find out patients' family medical history in order to advise them on nutritional needs. "Dental nutrition is not confined to avoiding things that are sticky, tacky or gooey," said Karp. "It is important to have a well- rounded diet and not snack all day or even sip diet sodas that can eventually demineralize teeth." Floaters, flashes of light in eyes need attention Trying to ignore those dark floaters or flashes of light that seem to dance right in front of your eyeball? Hoping they will just go away? According to the American Op- tometric Association, that attitude can lead to serious vision . loss. Of course, floaters and flashes can be part of the eye's natural aging process. More ominously, though, they can presage a sight- threatening condition such as diabetic retinopathy or retinal detachment. Only an optometrist can make that diagnosis. He or she will advise if you need immediate treatment to preserve your eyesight — or have a harmless condition you will have to live with. "For free information, send a self-addressed, stamped business- size envelope to Communications Cehter-Dept. FS10, American Op- tometric Association, 243 N. Lindbergh Ave., St. Louis, MO 63141. Children's vitamins could contain hidden danger HOUSTON — Worried that ' your finicky eater is not getting enough nutrition in his or her diet? Well, giving vitamins may be the wrong solution. Dr. Kathleen J. Motil, at the USDA's Children's Nutrition Research Center, warned that over- the-counter supplements can be potentially toxic and megadoses can be harmful. • "Too much iron can be fatal, and there are cases where excess vitamin A and D can damage the kidneys, heart and brain." Water-soluble vitamins, such as B-l, B-2, niacin, B-6, B-12 and C, are flushed out of the body with urine. But the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, tend to be stored in the body. "The fat-soluble vitamins are the worry." The better solution is to get children to eat a varied diet. Vitamin supplements should be reserved for premature infants, children on vegetarian diets and those who have a chronic illness or eating disorder. People with arthritis find help on Internet SAN FRANCISCO — SeniorNet, a nonprofit organization that teaches older people how to benefit from computer technology, is beginning a partnership with Searle, a major pharmaceutical company. The "Arthritis Connection" will enable people with arthritis to use the Internet to cope with and manage their health. A free brochure about how to, use the Internet for healthcare information is available by calling 888-ARTHLINE (278-4546). The "Better Living Spa," an online community developed to help people with arthritis is located at httpl//www.arthritisconnection.com From Wire Service Reports With TV's top-rated show, she says women should make no excuses about their daily exercise time Austin walks one hour a day besides a 30-mlnute morning workout. By MARILOU BERRY Scripps Howard News Service enise Austin has the \ top-rated fitness show on television. She has dpne 22 exercise videos, has developed a line of fitness equipment and appears regularly on NBC's "Today" show and on QVC (the shop-at-home cable network). She has, in short, brought her fitness expertise to Every- woman. And now, beginning Jan. 2, she moves her cable television show to Lifetime, a show, "Getting Fit with Denise Austin," she created and originally aired on ESPN in 1987. Asked how she motivates TV viewers to exercise regularly, Austin answers, "I think people feed off my energy. Then, after they've been into it about three weeks and have some small successes, they begin to feel better. They notice how regular workouts help them keep their energy up for whatever they have to do during the day." To Austin, 38, regular workouts mean exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week. "It's more like a lifestyle," she says. "It should become a part of a woman's appointment or date book. If she doesn't write it down, it should be in her brain. She should make no excuses." The videos are geared to women who lead busy lives ("And isn't that all of us?" she says) and who can do the exercises in their own home, on their own time. Austin says she has to fit her exercise into a schedule that includes time for her husband and two daughters, 2 and 5. "I get out of bed a half an hour before my daughters awaken Monday through Fri- 1 day," she says. "I use that time to work out. It's great to work out early in the morning. It gets your circulation going and gives you energy. " Austin, a size 4 who stands 5- feet-4-inches and weighs 110 pounds, insists she doesn't watch her diet all that much. "I'm not a health food nut," she says. "I'm a normal person who likes an occasional hamburger and french fries or a special dessert. I'm a firm believer that we should all eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper. The person who eats well 80 percent of the time can have yummies and treats the other 20 percent and still feel great and not gain weight, providing they exercise regularly." Austin is quick to add that exercise and eating properly are key ingredients in a healthy lifestyle. "But I make them fit into my life without being the only thing I think about." Austin's first book, "Jump Start", was published by Simon & Schuster in January. Photos by Scripps Howard News Service Denlse Austin of Alexandria, Va., does slt-ups with daughers Katie (left) and Kelly. Austin says she doesn't make her children work out but Includes fitness activities in their time together. Exercise and nutrition tips From her books, tips from Denise Austin: • To keep blood sugar and energy levels up, eat small meals throughout the day. • Eat small amounts of food you crave. If you deprive yourself of those foods, you will be more likely to gorge yourself later. • Put breakfast foods to the paper-towel test. If muffins or croissants exude oil onto a paper towel, they are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation, • Eat larger amounts of food earlier in the day, so you will-burn off those calories. Do not eat anything three hours prior to bedtime. • Women: Do your Kegei exercise. Tighten up the vaginal wall by squeezing the muscles in the pelvic area. To learn where these muscles are, next time you are going to urinate, stop the flow. Those are the muscles you use during a Kegel exercise. • No magical cream has been proved totally effective for combating cellulite, and in many cases liposuction has made the cellulite on women's legs look worse. You are likely to see improvement by reducing the fat in your diet and increasing exercise. • Your metabolism slows by 7 percent every 10 years. You need to either increase your exercise or decrease your food intake to maintain normal weight T MEDICINE DR. PAUL DONOHUE North America Syndicate Bacterial meningitis spread from cough of another victim Dear Dr. Donohue: Please explain the difference between viral and bacterial meningitis. How do you get meningitis anyway? How is it treated? Also, what are the common ages of the victims? — Mrs. C. Dear Mrs. C.: Meningitis is infection of the meninges, the brain covering, which swells, compressing the brain beneath. That accounts for the chief meningitis symptoms — headache and stiff neck. Viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis differ in means of transmission, recovery, treatment and duration. Viral meningitis generally is far less serious and is more easily treated. The viral transmission is by bite of an infected mosquito or through virus-contaminated food. For most, it's a self-limiting discomfiture of a week to 10 days. All the patient needs is to rest and keep comfortable. Usually, that's it. Bacterial meningitis has far more serious potential. Untreated, it can destroy essential brain tissue. Signs, which usually include headache, can vary depending on the specific bacterium involved and its duration and spread. Most get bacterial meningitis by breathing air contaminated by the cough of another victim, who might have no symptoms from the organism hiding in his throat. The inherent seriousness of bacterial meningitis lies in our failure to identify it. Early diagnosis and prompt administration of antibiotics tames most infections in short order. All ages are pretty equally subject to the viral kind, while bacterial meningitis favors the very young and the elderly. I want to be clear. What I say is true of most meningitis in most patients. But any viral meningitis, which might seem a mild affair of no consequence, can be lethal, depending on the virus involved. So, all meningitis deserves our greatest respect. Dear Dr. Donohue: Is there any information available on exploding-head syndrome? Over the years I have had this. — D.T. Dear D.T.: The last time I mentioned the exploding-head phenomenon, I was swamped with letters on the subject from far and wide. As its name implies, the syndrome involves an explosive event in the head, usually during sleep, from which the person is awakened. Ear ringing might result. I don't know the cause, but one always must suspect events such as a sudden bleed into the brain, although that would produce more than the single sudden transient pyrotechnic display of which we speak. Most reported cases of the exploding-head phenomenon are over in a flash, with no apparent consequences. Certainly, you should mention the episode to your physician. Since you have had the problem for so many years, your doctor might be inclined to dismiss it, the way we all tend to dispose of the unexplainable. On the other hand, your complaint might prompt a fruitful complete examination. If you find an answer, please let me know. I still get occasional letters from some distant part of the world referring to the earlier item. T INSURANCE Health care issue fails to reach critical mass Prediction: Only 70 percent of American workers to have insurance by 2002 By LEE BOWMAN Scripps Howard News Service WASHINGTON — A variety of forces threaten to erode health insurance coverage for Americans. And while polls show health care remains a potent issue for voters this election year, no one's talking about universal coverage anymore. Two recent studies indicate the number of Americans with health coverage provided by an employer will continue to slide, and that employers that do keep offering to pay for health coverage want workers to pick up more and more of the tab. At the same time, millions of former welfare recipients are being pushed into the workplace under a new law, with only a limited grace period for keeping their Medicaid coverage once they take jobs. And most of the jobs they'll find offer little or no health insurance benefits. One of the reports, prepared by the Lewin Group health consulting firm for the American Hospital Association, predicts that only 70 percent of American workers and their families will be covered through an employer plan by 2002, down from almost 78 percent at the start of this decade. In a recent survey of 601 businesses of all sizes, the Economic and Social Research In- stitute found that executives of one out of six firms don't believe they should be "encouraged or required" to contribute anything to employee health coverage, although 96 percent of those surveyed said they do so now. Four out of 10 employers said they would prefer to contribute 50 percent or less of a worker's premium, and almost half said they felt contributions made on behalf of an employee's family should be less than what they pay for the worker. And less than a third of the employers said they were willing to do more financially to help provide coverage for the uninsured. Jack Meyer, president of the nonprofit institute, said "the commitment of employers to providing health coverage for their workers and their families is being chipped away." Another institute study estimated as many as 2 million welfare families are at risk of losing public insurance coverage with no guarantee of picking up private coverage. All these factors, plus continued middle class anxiety over job and benefit security have kept health care worries bubbling as the second-or third most pressing issue for voters in most surveys done this year. "It's still on the agenda, although not necessarily the driving factor in the election," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said during a recent forum on healthcare in the election. "People feel it's very closely tied to their job security," added Republican pollster Gary Ferguson. SUGGESTIONS? CALL SHERIDA WARNER, LIFE EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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