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Health Q&A

Posted August 01, 2012 in Adel, Advice Column

Q: What are the dangers of dehydration?

A: With the dog days of summer upon us, the seriousness of dehydration cannot be underestimated. Dehydration is simply a decrease of water in the body with common symptoms of excessive thirst, decreased sweating and urination and decreased blood pressure that can trigger dizziness or fainting.

The brain cells, however, are very susceptible to decreased water volume, making confusion one of the best indicators that dehydration has become severe. According to the Merck Manual, a common reference for physicians, delirium from dehydration resembles the actions of a person becoming progressively more intoxicated with inability to pay attention, disorientation, confusion of time and place as well as rambling that may often become incoherent. The level of awareness seems to fluctuate and often worsens in the evening with restless sleep and altered sleep-wake cycle. Personality and mood may change with persons becoming quiet and withdrawn or irritable and agitated.

Delirium usually begins suddenly and progresses over hours or days depending on the severity and cause. If not identified and treated promptly the person may become progressively drowsy and unresponsive. Typical treatment for early dehydration is water and electrolyte solutions, however, emergency treatment of IV fluids is necessary in severe cases.

Information provided by Jodi K. Kuhse D.C., D.I.C.C.P., Luellen Chiropractic, 608 Greene St., Suite C, 993-1117.

Q: How can I avoid common self-care mistakes?

A: Treating common illnesses at home isn’t complicated. Even so, doing it safely requires knowledge and a willingness to follow the rules.

Here are steps to take to avoid some common self-care mistakes.

   Watch the dose. Don’t take more medication than the label recommends. Some people think if one dose of medication is good for them, then two must be even better. But the dosage recommendations on the package are there to protect you.

    Treat the cause. Don’t treat symptoms without treating their cause. One danger of self-treating is you may confuse symptom relief with a cure — meaning your underlying problem may continue or worsen even as you start feeling better.

    Don’t borrow meds. Don’t use someone else’s prescription medications. It’s common for people to give friends or family members their medications to try. But that’s not safe for several reasons.

 Look for good information. Don’t consult just any health book or Internet site. If a book or website promises a magical cure or makes outspoken claims against the conventional medical approach, that’s a good clue to be wary of its advice.

    Call your doctor. Don’t treat too long before calling your doctor. How do you know when it’s time to stop self-treating? An important clue: Are you getting better, or is the problem getting worse?

Information provided by Jane Vandevanter, Adel Health Mart, 113 N. Ninth St., 993-3644.

Q: Can physical therapy really train my brain?

A: It’s true. Most of us have heard about the effect of endorphins on our mood. Actually, exercising can improve clarity, increase brain function and possibly stimulate the formation of new brain pathways by restoring and stimulating nerve cells. Exercise helps improve circulation in your heart and lungs and nervous system.

Exercise is a very effective way to challenge your nerves which, in turn, helps your brain function to improve through mental stimulation as well as through physical exercise. The mental declines often associated with the aging process can be minimized with a well-designed exercise routine.

The way it works is exercise triggers communication between brain cells through blood circulation which interact with other parts of the nervous system as adrenaline is triggered.

Regular exercise can help keep brain cells healthy and functioning properly and can reduce the risk of dementia as we grow older.

Exercise at low to moderate levels is best. Very intense workouts can leave you exhausted physically and mentally. Ideally, you need at least half an hour of moderate exercise three times a week. Longer sessions may provide added benefit. You can also consider shorter, more frequent exercise during the day.

Moderate activities such as brisk walking, hiking, biking and swimming are beneficial. Your physical therapist will help you determine what’s best for you.

Information provided by Mike Burggraaf, PT, MS, LAT, Core Physical Therapy, Inc., 102 S. Seventh St., Adel, phone 993-5599.

Q: Is there any benefit to body detoxification?

A: To answer this question, consider the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that we may be exposed to more than 20,000 different types of chemicals that our bodies cannot metabolize. Of these, at least 10,000 are used in food processing, packaging, wrapping, and storage (e.g., solvents, emulsifiers, preservatives), and at least 3,000 are added directly to our food supply.

Our ability to eliminate these toxins through the skin, lungs, liver  and kidneys can easily become overwhelmed, causing our bodies to store them in fat cells — which then begin to malfunction. According to Dr. Jeffrey Morrison in his book “Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind,” that is why these toxic chemicals are causing failing health in the form of weight gain (despite dieting), enzyme dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and damage to our brain chemistry. Health symptoms that are linked to toxins include allergies, difficulty concentrating, digestive gas and bloating, fatigue, headaches, irritability, low mood, muscle aches, obesity and poor memory.

Dr. Morrison recommends a dietary approach to detoxification that will quickly restore health. There are many quick “detox” products and programs marketed; however, his is not something you have to purchase (other than his very-informative book) but follow. He describes the daily foods that should be ingested and all the foods that should be avoided for 30 days. After that time, foods can be reintroduced one at a time to be certain you are not sensitive to them.

Information provided by Toni Sumpter, Medicap Pharmacy, 628 Nile Kinnick Drive South, Suite A, 993-1119.

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