Friday, December 14, 2007


The fact that you’re reading this blog shows that you’re finding your way around the Internet and you’re likely interested in health-related topics. Did you know that the most popular searches on search engines are health and medical related topics? So, knowing this, the article Cyberchondriacs shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve always had people who believe they have every disease or injury known to mankind – ask any nursing or medical student how this can happen, but now it’s so much easier with all this information at our fingertips. Is being able to access all this information doing more harm than good?

Obviously, I’m a huge proponent for finding information on the Web. In fact, knowing how and where to search for information on your diagnosis can be a huge comfort and help for many. It allows people to understand what is happening, they can connect with others with similar situations, and it provides information that can be discussed with the doctors or healthcare professionals. I did this myself when I was booked for a root canal earlier this week - I wanted to know what I was getting in to and what the procedure involved. The problem is when people get carried away.

It’s so important not to try to diagnose yourself. It’s easy to go online if you feel pains in your knees or you were dizzy after doing something – it’s just as easy to find yourself with totally incorrect information and learning that you have something fatal – when you don’t. Of course, there is also the reverse. You could have something serious, but if you are at the wrong site, reading the wrong information – you may decide that you don’t need to go see a doctor, to your detriment.

The Internet is a tool, but like all tools, it needs to be used safely and well for it to be an effective tool. Use it wisely – use it with your doctor, not in place of your doctor.

News for Today:

Increase folic acid dose to prevent birth defects, society urges
Lipitor raises risk of brain hemorrhage while reducing overall stroke risk: study
Suicide now 2nd-leading cause of death in B.C. kids
Incontinence will strike one in four adults: report

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Getting kids moving

This article caught my eye: Kids more active when playground has balls, jump ropes, UNC study shows

Often, we lament that we don’t see kids playing outside, they aren’t getting the exercise we’d like to see, but how many of us (parents) buy the toys and equipment they need for this?

I remember when my kids were young, I was forever buying them skipping ropes, chalks for making hopscotch squares, and all sorts of stuff. It was something I just thought they needed. I honestly didn’t think about if these things were making them more active or not.

We know that our kids – in general – aren’t getting as much exercise as they should. Gone are the days that they walk to school, for example. When I was growing up, the rule was if you lived more than 1 mile, you were bused to school. The rest were “walkers,” sunshine, rain, or snow. Now, if a child is a walker, chances are he or she will be driven to school.

Where I grew up, street hockey was the norm. There were games of street hockey everywhere. Drivers knew to watch for them and kids knew to yell “car” when one was coming. Now, they’re few and far between.

We’re keeping our children safe. We’re trying to keep them from getting hurt from the evils out in the world. But at what cost?

News for Today:

Smoking increases diabetes risk, study review finds
Alberta mumps clinics halted after allergic reactions
Large-scale study definitively links Avandia, heart risk: authors
Kids more active when playground has balls, jump ropes, UNC study shows

Obesity reduces chances of spontaneous pregnancy in women who are subfertile but ovulating normally
Accuracy of diagnostic mammograms varies by radiologist

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And today’s topic…. Root canals! How lucky is that?

Why root canals?
I’m going for one later today. I’ve heard horrible things about root canals, but I’ve also heard that they’re not that bad. So, I’m hoping for the not that bad.

I didn’t even really know what a root canal was until I was told I needed one. I’d heard about them, but never bothered to learn about them. It’s actually pretty neat what they can do – but I had a choice, it wouldn’t be going to the endodontist later today.

According to the American Dental Association, a tooth that is restored through a root canal has the potential of lasting a lifetime – provided it’s well cared for.

The procedure can vary in terms of number of appointments, some people can have a root canal done in one visit, others in two or three. The goal of the root canal is to clean out the abscess or infection that made its way down to the dental pulp, the soft tissue that has the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues for the teeth, usually through tiny fractures in the teeth. The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth down to the root in the bone in the jaws.

The ADA describes the treatment:

1. First, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth.
2. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
3. The pulp is then removed. The root canal(s) is cleaned and shaped to a form
that can be filled.
4. The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped.
5. Medications may be put in the pulp chamber and root canal(s) to help get rid of
germs and prevent infection.
6. A temporary filling will be placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth
between dental visits. Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain.
You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread
beyond the tooth.
7. The pulp chamber and root canals are filled and sealed.
8. The temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are
cleaned and filled.
9. In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth. If
an endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to
your family dentist for this final step.
10. The crown of the tooth is then restored.

Hopefully, this will be the end of my dental adventures for a while.

News for Today:

Heartburn drugs Prilosec, Nexium do not raise heart risk: FDA
Depressed heart attack patients at higher risk of death
Noisy toys damage kids' hearing, group warns
No link between obesity, birth control failure
The body: Balance - The sixth sense, and why it can fail us
Seniors' walking speed may predict longevity
Research suggests fasting reduces heart disease
Treatment using antibiotic may help slow MS
High blood pressure associated with risk for mild cognitive impairment
Mediterranean diet and physical activity each associated with lower death rate over 5 years
Calcium in coronary arteries may be linked to increased risk for heart disease in low-risk women
Good physical function after age 40 tied to reduced risk of stroke

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dental work anyone?

Are there any healthcare professionals more feared or dreaded than the dentist? I feel badly for them. Imagine being in a social situation, introductions made and the new acquaintance saying something like “I’m terrified of dentists,” or “oh boy, I haven’t been to a dentist in ages. I hate them.” I know the prospect of dental work isn’t pleasant – not too many people actually look forward to it, but dentists play a very important role in our overall health.

The says it well: “While the eyes may be the window to the soul, your mouth is a window to your body's health.” According to the Canadian Dental Association, 7 out of 10 Canadians develop gum disease at one point in their life.

Problems with teeth and gums can contribute to serious health issues and can cause illness as well. People with heart disease and diabetes, for example, are at risk for problems. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing gum disease, which in turn, can cause complications with the diabetes. For people with heart disease, bacteria from the teeth can get into the blood system, causing infection. This is why many people with heart problems must take antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures. Even pregnant women are targeted for special dental care. According to Health Canada, “Studies show that pregnant women with gum disease might be at a higher risk of delivering pre-term, low birth weight babies than women without gum disease.” Other health issues include osteoporosis (bone loss can show up in the teeth), HIV/AIDS (one of the first signs may show up in the gums), eating disorders (wearing away of enamel from vomiting), among others.

So, what do you do if you are afraid of dentists? That depends on the extent of your fear. If you are truly terrified of dentists, perhaps you can enlist the help of a therapist to learn coping techniques. It’s not as silly as it may sound – if fear is keeping you from caring for your teeth properly, then the fear need to be addressed.

Otherwise, you can find dentists that specialize with people who are scared or who have been traumatized. You may need to do some calling around first, but they are out there. Word-of-mouth is a good way to find dentists. Be open about your fear and ask for recommendations from people you know. Most are more than willing to share their experiences with a dentist who helped them overcome their fears. Perhaps a call to a local university department of dentistry may help if you, or even the regulating body for dentists in your state or province.

Dental care is important – it can be scary, but with the right team, it can also be done successfully and with the minimum of stress and discomfort.

News for Today (slim pickings!)

Staying slim improves survival after breast cancer diagnosis: study
Gleevec, the targeted cancer pill, delivers more good news to patients
Pneumonia Vaccine Is Keeping Kids Healthier
Hard to stomach