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Health Q&A

Posted October 31, 2012 in Adel, Advice Column

Q: What is the best way to dispose of unwanted meds?

A: To be sure, drugs are not safe when given to someone for whom they were not prescribed and can be very dangerous if accidentally ingested by a child or pet. When you are finished taking a medicine, whether it was discontinued by your doctor, or you never finished the entire prescription, the best action is to get rid of it.

Currently the Food and Drug Administration recommends one of three options. First, sort out any narcotic pain medicines. These include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and some patches such as fentanyl or buprenorphine. These pain medicines have side effects that can be deadly by inhibiting breathing and/or causing irregular heartbeats. Used and unopened pain patches should be opened, then fold upon itself and flushed down the toilet. The oral medicines for pain should merely be flushed down the toilet. Flushing prevents the risk that a child or pet will accidently ingest them.

All other drugs can be dropped off at a pharmacy that participates in the “Take-Away” program. These meds are then shipped to a facility that incinerates them.

A third option is to mix the medicines with coffee grounds, catbox filler or some other undesirable substance and placed in a container such as a plastic bag and thrown in the trash.

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

Q: What is a tension headache, and how is it treated?

A: There are multiple types of headaches, but one of the most common is a tension headache. Tension headaches often start at the back of your head and spread forward. The pain may feel dull or like a vise squeezing your head. The tightness may also go into your shoulders, neck and jaw.

Tight, contracted muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw cause tension headaches.  This tightness may be related to stress, depression, or anxiety.  Overworking, not getting enough sleep, and missing meals may make you more susceptible to headaches.  Holding your head in one position for a long time, like at a computer, poor sleeping position, overexerting yourself, and clenching or grinding you teeth may also cause a tension headache.

Physical therapists have many skills that are extremely helpful for decreasing the pain associated with tension headaches. Research has shown manual therapy techniques to be effective in decreasing muscle tension and decreasing pain in the neck and back. Physical therapists will also teach their patient a home exercise program that will allow the patient to continue to “treat” himself or herself by stretching and strengthening the appropriate muscles.

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

Q: What does my spine have to do with digestion?

A: From the tongue, down the esophagus, to the stomach and through the small and large intestines, the digestive system is a series of muscles that must perform in a coordinated manner to allow for proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.

All of these muscles and the glands that secrete the digestive enzymes are controlled by the nervous system. Misalignments of the spine can compromise the function of these nerves and interfere with proper digestion that not only affects proper absorption of water and nutrients, but can trigger other symptoms such as reflux, constipation, bloating and gallbladder dysfunction.

Chiropractors are trained to identify and correct spinal misalignments that may be interfering with the way your body functions. Back pain may or may not be present with spinal misalignments that are compromising your health. Don’t wait for pain to develop — it is only one of many conditions that indicate the need for chiropractic care. Have your family evaluated and treated to make sure all the body’s systems are functioning at their highest potential.

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

Q: What can I do to protect my skin during winter weather?

A: When the air outside is chilly and low on humidity, and the air inside is heated and dry, you have a recipe for chapped skin and cracked lips, dermatologists say. To prevent scaling, flaking and itching, pay special attention to your skin during the cold months by applying a cream-based moisturizer every day.

A good time to use moisturizer is just after showering to help trap moisture on the skin’s surface. Those with sensitive skin should choose a moisturizer without fragrance or lanolin. And although frequent hand washing is often urged to prevent the spread of germs, all of that soap and water can also make hands chapped. Using a mild soap and moisturizing afterwards can help relieve the dryness.

When it comes to bathing, stay away from very hot water. Short, lukewarm showers or baths with a non-irritating, non-detergent-based cleanser are easier on the skin. Immediately afterward, apply a mineral oil or petroleum jelly-type moisturizer and gently pat skin dry. Rinsing your body daily but using less soap can also help protect the skin’s natural moisturizers.

When heading outside, cover your face and use a petrolatum-based balm with an SPF for your lips. It’s also advised to use sunscreen, which is just as important in the winter as in the summer if you’re going to be spending time in the snow.

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

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