Answers to today's medical questions through blogs and articles

Author page: Shari Duddy

Are Cosmetics Safe?

Harmful chemicals to look goodSocial media assails us every day about what is considered “safe” … coffee’s bad for you today and okay to chug it next week, or eggs cause cholesterol, then more studies say you can eat as many eggs as you want.  Many years ago, women were scared by a study that said wearing red lipstick could cause oral cancer, but they refused to give up their tubes of red lipstick so easily.  In this ever-evolving list of what you should and should not do, perhaps it is time to take a look at some of the products women use on an everyday basis, and examine if “natural” products are safe or not.

Are High Heels Safe?

Are High Heels SafeWay back in the 10th century, during the Tang Dynasty, a rather barbaric practice of Chinese foot binding of young girls, aged six years or younger, began.  The feet of these poor children were wrapped in tight bandages and broken so they couldn’t grow any bigger.  Why would such an atrocity be done you may ask?  Well, binding the feet to make them appear tiny and delicate was practiced by wealthy families, as only wealthy families could afford to have the women of the house stay at home and not work.  When you saw a Chinese woman with very tiny feet, you instantly recognized that as a status symbol representing prestige, beauty and wealth.

If you scoff at the above idea, consider this – the people of Western civilization, all these years later, think nothing of a woman teetering on heels so spindly that she can barely walk and with only a prayer she will not topple over and break a bone, or two, or three.

Women even joke about their infatuation with high heels – they don’t care how much pain and suffering they have to endure, because, after all, stilettos transcend them into a femme fatale.  Even if women are short in stature, heels give them a commanding presence.  Heels are a boost to any woman’s ego because suddenly their legs look long and shapely as opposed to short-heeled, sensible shoes which make them feel short and dowdy.

How to Protect Your Back During Daily Tasks

Protect Your Back During Daily TasksUnless you live in a warm-weather state where you can enjoy (or merely tolerate) doing yard work all year around, once the last of the snow has disappeared, it is time to start thinking about yard work once again.  Even if you’ve been shoveling snow all Winter, you’re likely to use different muscles, plus you will be squatting and bending, as opposed to lifting and throwing the snow.  If you have a snow blower, or your spouse or a service takes care of the snow, you might be out of shape somewhat, so, before you plan on doing yard work, you might want to begin by doing stretches, squats and lunges a few weeks before you tackle the raking/thatching and bagging up of debris, or tending to the yard in general.  It really will help to be more flexible for the job at hand, and, you sure don’t want to overdo your unused muscles just because you insist on doing all the work in one weekend.  That’s the way to likely incur pain in the back, or aching shoulders.

Probably the best and most-important advice from a top spine doctor in Summit, New Jersey would be to bend your knees.  Those 40-pound bags of topsoil are a challenge for a lot of people once gardening begins in earnest.  First you must heft them out of the back of your car and that can strain your back, especially if you twist and turn your torso the wrong way.  Why not have a four-wheeled dolly at the ready to move those heavy bags from the car to where they will be used?  Also, getting up and down from a kneeling or squatting position may be awkward or difficult for some.  Don’t risk damaging your back – why not treat yourself to a rolling garden seat to make gardening easier and more enjoyable?

Common Triggers for Sciatica and What to do About Them

Causes of SciaticaThere are several causes of sciatica, which is identified as a painful condition which occurs from soreness or pain that travels from your lumbar or lower spine, to your buttock and all the way down your leg.  Sciatica only affects one side of your body, but that one side might as well be both sides for all the pain you will experience.  Sciatic pain does not discriminate where it chooses to wreak havoc – it might be a tolerable ache, or an excruciating pain.  There are ways to try to thwart sciatica and stop it in its tracks, but many times, other medical issues are the underlying cause of the sciatic problems, thus, the malady is not strictly your own doing.  For example, although sciatica is believed to originate from prolonged sitting, even the simple act of coughing or sneezing can cause a sciatica sufferer great discomfort.  Sometimes (but rarely), the sciatic nerve can be compressed by a tumor, or damaged by a disease such as diabetes, or, it could become pinched, usually by a herniated disc in your spine, or by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) on your vertebrae.

While the consequences sound dire for a person that suffers from sciatica, the good news is that, for most cases, 90% of sciatica sufferers have a full recovery from a bout of sciatica without the need for surgery.

Some of the triggers for sciatica are listed below.  Remember:  if pain persists, you should contact a specialist who will evaluate you to determine the appropriate measures to get you feeling more like yourself again a spine specialist in NJ is the answer to your sciatica woes.

How to Prevent Sciatica

Prevent SciaticaThe facts are plain and simple – it is not always possible to prevent sciatica, and sadly, the condition may reoccur after the initial bout with it. What you may initially just pass off as sleeping the wrong way, or feeling uncomfortable after taking a long car trip, resulting in not knowing which way to sit due to the pain, may be sciatica.  It most cases, sciatica can be relieved in a matter of weeks.  But first, you need to pinpoint whether it is sciatica and what the heck is going on, then do consult with a spine specialist pronto, so that you can get on the road to recovery soon.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia SeedsChances are, the mere mention of the word “chia” as in “chia seeds” will bring a giggle or two to those who fondly remember a gift called a “Chia Pet” first introduced in the early 1980s.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chia_Pet)  The novelty of the Chia Pet or Chia Head was that you had a terracotta planter and you affixed moistened chia seeds onto it, and in a few weeks’ time, the chia seeds sprouted and made “hair”.  Chia pets are still available and enjoyed a recent resurgence with chia seeds sprouting into full beards to resemble various characters from the “Duck Dynasty” show.

Health Benefits of Fresh Asparagus

Fresh AsparagusIf you love fresh veggies, once growing season is in gear, there is no better place to go than the local vendors to load up on local produce.  One of the first vegetables available in Spring is fresh asparagus.  While this valuable veggie is available year-round, Spring is the peak season for taste.  Crops are harvested beginning in late February through June, with April as the prime month.

When choosing asparagus, however, pick green asparagus as it is much more beneficial than white.  It is the stalk of this veggie which packs a punch in terms of nutrients and goodness.

Health Benefits of Omega-3

Omega-3 fishWhat if you were told that eating foods rich in Omega-3 or taking supplements of Omega-3 would guarantee that you would reap the following benefits:

  • Improved cardiovascular health, including protecting the heart from mental stress;
  • Protection from Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Protection from vision loss, including aiding in dry-eye syndrome;
  • Reduced risk of developing prostate cancer;
  • Improved memory in healthy young adults;
  • Reduced mental health problems (especially curbing behavioral problems in youngsters);
  • Reduced seizure episodes in epileptic patients;
  • Protection from post-partum depression in new mothers;
  • Reduced symptoms of allergies and asthma;
  • Reduced risk of psychosis; and
  • Increased fetal cognitive and motor development.

How to Reduce The Risk for Skin Cancer

Once the gloriously warm and sunny days of late Spring or Summer arrive, slowly we begin to show a little more skin to the rest of the world.  First, the tee-shirts and shorts get pulled out of the drawer, followed by sandals.  No one wants their skin to be the same color as Swiss cheese – we want to look healthy and vibrant.

Well, it’s wonderful to sport that sun-kissed glow, but here are a few facts that might make you re-think that coveted golden brown skin.  For example:

  • Did you know that skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States?
  • More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year.

Take heart though, because, unlike other forms of cancer, all skin cancers are highly treatable if found early.

How to Prevent Diabetes

Prevent DiabetesThough most of us enjoy good health, we should never take it for granted.  Always there is the fear of the unknown, something catastrophic that would take our good health away and that is the scariest notion.  Like the Zika virus for instance.  Or last year’s widespread flu epidemic since the virulent virus did not match the flu serum for the 2014-2015 flu season.

But how about type 2 diabetes?  While it is not classified as an infectious or communicable disease, the incidence of adult-onset diabetes is growing at an alarming rate, even showing up in teens and children.  It is estimated that more than 29 million Americans have diabetes; unbelievably, about 8 million don’t even know they have the disease.