Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Short hair, pony tail--remember the sunscreen

Winter is no excuse for ditching the sunscreen, say Drs Joshua Fox and Barry Silver of Advanced Dermatology in Summit and Ridgewood, NJ.

Men are at increased risk for skin cancer due to their shorter hair. But women are also susceptible due to thinner hair or wearing a ponytail. This exposes the ears and ear tips are hit.

I thought this was kind of dumb, but my sister said oh, no, when she went for skin cancer treatment, plenty of people had ear tip cancer. you are. Winter even intensifies the negative effects of UV exposure--snow, for one thing, reflects 80% of UV--meaning the rays hit you twice. And wind and snow can wash off the sunscreen you do apply.

Skiers also get it bad--at high elevations, UV is more harmful.


--Apply SPF 30 or higher at least 20 minutes before going outdoors.
--Use at least a teaspoonful just on your face.
--Apply to top and behind ears.
--Use sunscreen while driving in your car.
--Use large wraparound shades.
--On the slopes, use a ski mask.

Most skin cancer is preventable--it comes from letting the sun roast you. Think of it as radiation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

High BP can threaten vision

A new study in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science ( indicates that chronic high blood pressure increases susceptibility to glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world--it results in too much pressure inside the eye.

The new research was done at the Univ of Melbourne in Australia and is significant because it was previously thought high blood pressure counteracted internal eye pressure.

They even raised BP in young people for an hour to see if it helped the eye pressure.

However, this became a risk factor in older people. Over time, researchers think, high pressure may damage vessels in the eye.

They are testing this in rats--but you know what? Try to control high blood pressure if you can, just in case, OK?

I am all about eyes and vision, since losing sight in one eye--you do not want this.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Consumer Reports Study: Demand respect from your doc

I guess they prefer the term "doctor" to doc. But still, I have spent my life trying to manage my own body--with the help of these trained pros--instead of turning it over to them.

Every year, 400,000 preventable errors cost people their lives. They get medication interaction disorders, hospital acquired infections, the wrong limb operated on or removed, bad diagnoses, no name it.

In Consumer Reports Safe Patient Study are countless stories of patients frustrated by doctors not listening, tossing their internet finds, and so on. The 19 seconds before interrupting the patient seems to still stand. I have had doctors make the hurry-up hand motion as I talked.

I once went to the ER with horrible abdominal pains--I was blocked. They sent me home to take a laxative--I threw up and went back the next day--they did another x-ray. Nope--not blocked. I said, well, something is wrong! Then the doc came back in--they were looking at the x-ray from the day before, yes, I was blocked. Five days in the hospital on an NG tube--which you do not want, by the way.

In dealing with doctors, according to Consumer Reports, you need for them to see you as a person. This is especially true in the hospital, where your own doctor will probably not take care of you, and a hospitalist doctor will be in charge. This person has no idea who you are. You need to bring up your kids, your profession, make yourself into a "person."

Invite the doctor to sit down--it's YOUR show.

Have supporters with you.

Think of you and the doctor as partners in your care. See if you can get the doctor to buy in.

Write things down or have your people write.

And if you don't understand, ask again--and even again.

You may need to harden up. I have had doctors blow through, barely speaking, tossing out scripts like confetti, casually consigning me to "big drugs"--and of course, there are the bad calls--they had Mom listed as diabetic at one hospital and would never change it. We objected over and over.

My advice: Try to be sweet and nice, but insist on not being glossed over or harmed.

Friday, January 23, 2015


James Stankiewicz, MD, chair of the dept of otolaryngology at Loyola, says winter is to blame for many nosebleeds.

Not to worry--this is normal for winter, in other words.

Yet, blood dripping from your face will be alarming now and again.

Older people tend to get these more--thinner mucous membranes and blood vessel walls.

[Only part of us that's thinner!]

If someone does look at you in horror, first do not panic.

Tilt your head back and apply firm pressure on the nostrils for 5 minutes.

Ice it.

Put some Vaseline on cotton and stuff it into your nose.

If this does not stop, you may want to run to urgent care or something, but I would not.

Yes, sometimes this can be a symptom of something "bad." Teen males can (rarely) get a tumor that results in gushing nosebleeds. Getting frequent bleeds can also signal leukemia or liver disease.

But don't freak out--it is probably not these!

Just get a humidifier and apply some vaseline inside your nose sometimes.

And pray for spring.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Nutrition label we use the hardest to understand

We've all seen it. In fact, a guy I knew in DC--Berky Belser--designed it. But according to researchers at McGill Univ, it's the one of four that's hardest to decipher.

Time is limited when you are standing in the store aisle and trying to decide which product is best for you.  One may be high in fact, low in sugar, the one next to it, the opposite. Or you may not care about fiber, but not want carbs or gluten.

The UK uses the Red-Yellow-Green traffic light system.

In Denmark, Sweden and Canada, foods can be certified as nutritious--but what does that mean?

They don't say which is best--so is Berky supposed to come up with yet another?

Do you have an idea how many people sat in how many meetings to even get what we have?