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Health Q&A

Posted November 07, 2012 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

Q: What is trench mouth?

A: Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, or trench mouth¸ is a painful form of gum disease that includes the destruction of gum tissue around the teeth and creation of crater-like ulcers in the gum that are filled with plaque and food debris. Other symptoms are a grayish film on the gums and a constant foul taste and breath. It is a rare disorder, brought on or exacerbated by factors including poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, other infections in the mouth or throat, smoking and stress. The term “trench mouth” came from the condition’s prevalence among soldiers in World War I.

Your dentist may recommend a salt-water rinse to soothe sore gums and hydrogen peroxide rinse to wash away decayed gum tissue. If fever accompanies your condition, the dentist may also prescribe an antibiotic. The good news is that the condition normally responds well to treatment. Left untreated, though, the infection can spread to other parts of the mouth and jaw. Talk with your dentist about ways to keep your mouth healthy.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q: How can diabetes affect my eyes?

A: November is National Diabetes Awareness month. Currently 26 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and 79 million are pre diabetic or at risk for developing diabetes.

Diabetes affects the entire eye. Starting from the front of the eye, diabetes places one at higher risk for developing dry eye syndrome. One study found more than 50 percent of diabetics have symptoms associated with dry eyes. Furthermore, possible sight-threatening infections called corneal ulcers are more common with dry eye syndrome.

Moving inside the eye, just behind the iris, is the crystalline lens. Diabetes, especially when poorly managed, can cause swelling of the crystalline lens. This results in blurred vision and large shifts in glasses prescriptions in short periods of time.

The most serious complications occur in the retina. Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, causing the vessels to leak blood and proteins. This is known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy needs to be treated or will eventually cause permanent vision loss and in severe cases, blindness.

Similar to seeing their internist on a regular basis, it’s important for diabetics to have their eyes examined frequently. Ranging from every three to 12 months, comprehensive eye exams are the only way to ensure diabetic complications are caught early to avoid possible sight threatening complications.

Information provided by Dr. Thomas Augustin, Vision Park Family Eye Care, 640 S. 50th St. Suite 2180, West Des Moines, 225-8667.

Q: Can I wear contacts?

A: Doctor: “Have you ever considered contacts?”
Patient: “Oh, I wish I could wear contacts, but I am not a good candidate for them.”
I have often had this conversation with patients. Although it is true that contact lenses are not an option for everyone, technology is always improving, and now many people are able to wear contacts that were not able to in the past.
 • Astigmatism.There is now a wide array of soft contact lenses that correct astigmatism. If soft lenses aren’t possible, gas permeable contacts are still an option.
 • Multifocal. Needing bifocals, trifocals or progressives no longer means that you need to wear reading glasses over your contacts. We are now able to use multifocal contact lenses to help correct your distance, computer, and near vision all in one lens.
    • Dryness. Improved lens materials now make soft lens wear healthier by increasing oxygen permeability, and new solution components help improve moisture retention. There are also single-use contacts that are great because you get a brand new fresh lens every day. Although it may never be possible to wear contacts full time, we can often find an approach that would allow part-time use.
Don’t let the fact that you were told you couldn’t wear contact lenses 15 years ago stop you from inquiring about them now.

Information provided by Dr. Lisa Lansink, One Hour Optical, 4100 University Ave., West Des Moines, 244-1317.

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