How Toddlers Are Like Furniture: Proper Lifting Required

September 27th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

When I was visiting my sister, brother-in-law and two-year-old nephew recently, my nephew and I developed a game that pretty much consisted of horrifying his mother. I pulled him off the couch by the feet and twirled him around the living room upside down. Again! And again! And again!

Sure, my back got tired, but it was a good workout, and I was proud of my energy and stamina.

A few hours later, I picked up his plastic toy lawnmower and promptly threw my back out. The toy probably weighed three pounds. Ridiculous, but worth some hearty laughter from my compassionate family.

This kind of unfortunate situation is actually common, according to Andrew Kirschner, D.O., a doctor who writes briefly about it in this week’s featured article, “What Causes a Crick in the Neck? 6 Pain FAQs.”

“A lot of times your back gets set up for injury, but it doesn’t really trigger until you’re doing something minor,” he writes. I guess I figured it’d give me a warning or something. “Excuse me, here’s a twinge of soon-to-fade pain as a polite reminder that you need to stop now.”

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Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Chickenpox All Grown Up: What’s Fascinating About Shingles

September 20th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

I think shingles is fascinating. I probably wouldn’t be so upbeat if I’d ever had it, but since I haven’t, here’s what’s I think is interesting: It’s the chickenpox virus that’s been hiding in a nerve root for decades. Right now, you might have it, sitting in your spinal cord.

Then, when it wakes up, the blisters only appear on the part of the skin that that nerve root supplies. Nerves wrap from the spine to the sternum, so you get a rash that wraps around a designated path on one side of your body.

This week’s featured article tells “How to Get Rid of Shingles (and Can You Spread It?).” What do you think? Fascinating?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Pop Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Chompers?

September 13th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Think you know your teeth? Try your hand at these questions:

  1. Do over-the-counter teeth whiteners work?
  2. Do you need to sanitize your toothbrush?
  3. If your mouth isn’t big enough for wisdom teeth, why are they there?

Check your answers in this week’s featured article, “Dentists Answer 7 Common Questions About Your Teeth.” How’d you do?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

When Psychology Meets Classic Litarature

September 6th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Question: If people and animals seem much smaller to you than they really are, you might be having a:

a. Lilliputian hallucination
b. Flat effect
c. Dwarfish visionary response

Hint: This is a rare phenomenon named after the small people in Gulliver’s Travels. (It’s also called Alice in Wonderland syndrome.)

Do you know the answer? Check it in this month’s “Psychology Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Mental Health?”

You can come back and post your score here … if you dare!

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

What They Don’t Tell Kids About Bees

August 30th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Growing up in Mississippi, exploring dense woods and thick brush, my sister and I were always on the lookout for ticks. We had our fair share and learned early on how they got removed: grasp the head with tweezers, and pull.

I don’t know about where you live, but I think the South may be the critter capitol of the world. Bees, wasps, spiders, snakes—and it’s balmy weather for them most of the time. So we knew a lot about what to do and not do to keep ourselves safe. But there is one thing I didn’t know back then: Sweat attracts bees. I would have known it if I could have read this week’s featured article, “11 Tips for a Safer Hike.”

But I couldn’t. It wasn’t written, and we didn’t have the Internet. And it’s probably best nobody told us kids such things. During those boggy Mississippi summers, you could stick your pinky out the window and be swimming in sweat. As scared as we were of honeybees and their massive bumblebee cousins, we never would have gone outside.

I have to admit, though, that there’s one thing on the article’s list you couldn’t have gotten us kids to do in a million years: wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. The average high in August was 91 degrees. All pants were good for was being cut off into shorts.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Happy World Mosquito Day!

August 23rd, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Did you get a chance to celebrate World Mosquito Day on Saturday? We certainly hope so.

In case you’ve been living under a rock (ahem), World Mosquito Day started August 20, 1897, when British doctor Sir Ronald Ross made the link that female mosquitoes transmitted malaria, according to the United Kingdom government organization Department for International Development.

We don’t have malaria in the United States, but we do have West Nile virus—1,021 cases of it last year, to be exact. Symptoms can remind you of the flu. Find out more in this week’s featured article, “Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.”

One way to prevent it? Regularly empty any standing water around your house, where mosquitoes love to lay eggs. The CDC even recommends poking holes in tire swings so they can drain.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

How Surgery Is Like Flying

August 16th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Part of what makes surgery so scary is we’re not in control. It’s like flying in an airplane. No matter the statistics, we’re not at the wheel, and that’s disconcerting.

Of course, letting others take over is a good thing sometimes. Doing surgery on ourselves isn’t ideal, though some try. But putting our life in the hands of someone else—while we’re completely unconscious—well, no wonder it makes us nervous.

This week’s featured article answers three questions about surgery, to help you feel more comfortable and informed. One question spotlights anesthesia. In the 1980s, our doctor writes, two in 10,000 people died of anesthesia-related causes. By 2000, “that number had decreased to one in every 200,000 to 300,000.” You can read the article here: “3 Surgery FAQs.”

At least there are a few things we can control: Picking a good doctor and a good hospital gives us a leg up. Now if only we could pick our own pilots. And plane.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Muscle Multitasking: Get in a Chores Workout

August 9th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

A watched pot never boils. So drop and give me 10!

To burn a few calories and build a little muscle, Fitcorp, a company with gyms in the Boston area, recommends making chores do double duty. Cooking a batch of scrumptious pasta for dinner (whole grain, of course)? Do push-ups and lunges while waiting for the water to boil. Are your outdoor flowers wilting in the heat? Water them the old-fashioned way, with a watering can or hose. Basically, find more ways to move.

Do you make your chores work for you? What do you do? Me, I like to squat instead of bending over for stuff. Seems like a little thing, but I never have trouble getting up off the floor, so I figure it must be doing something, right?

In this week’s featured article, “How to Burn More Calories,” you can read Fitcorp’s tips, plus tips from other experts on how to burn more calories while exercising. You can stop those push-ups now. It’s time for crunches!

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Things That Can Look (Sound?) Like Colic

August 2nd, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Sometimes babies just cry. Nobody can pinpoint a medical reason, and they just wail and wail. Much to the parent’s chagrin. It’s called colic, and boy is it not fun.

But sometimes there is a reason for that crying that may not be obvious. That’s why babies need a thorough exam to make sure it’s colic. In this week’s featured article, “Colic Tips: How to Calm a Colicky Baby,” we list a few of these things:

  • Reflux
  • Hair tourniquets (hairs wrapped around fingers, toes, penis)
  • Formula intolerance
  • Breast-milk intolerance (due to something in the mother’s diet)
  • Illness

If your doctor has diagnosed your baby with colic, we feel for you, and we hope a couple of the tips in the article will help.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Autoimmune Diseases: Treatments Are Here, But Are the Diagnoses?

July 26th, 2011

myasthenia-gravisby Leigh Ann Otte

Myasthenia gravis is a modern-medicine success story.

Before 1950, this rare autoimmune disease was often fatal, writes neurologist Robert M. Pascuzzi in this week’s featured article, “Myasthenia Gravis: Prognosis and Treatment.” Today, treatment is available, and it’s usually successful.

Despite advances, many immune-system disorders remain frustrating creatures. Since there’s no test for some of them, people can have trouble getting a definitive diagnosis.

If you or someone you know has faced this challenge, this article might help: “Autoimmune Disease: Can’t Get a Diagnosis? Here’s What to Do.”

Have you had trouble getting a diagnosis? How did you finally discover what was going on?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

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