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Health Q&A

Posted December 05, 2012 in Advice Column, Johnston

Q: I have 20/20 vision. Do I need an eye exam?

A: Yes!

Comprehensive eye examinations include a series of tests that evaluate not only your prescription for glasses or contact lenses, but your overall eye health. Healthy eyes are needed to maintain proper vision. Regularly scheduled eye exams help detect problems at the earliest stages, when they are the most treatable. Most eye diseases do not cause any pain or vision impairment during the early stages; therefore, early detection and treatment reduces the risk of permanent vision loss. Eye exams can also uncover a variety of systemic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Additionally, comprehensive eye exams include tests that evaluate how the eyes work and team together, muscle alignment, performance of the focusing system and the external and internal health of the eyes including tests for glaucoma and other sight-threatening diseases.

The American Optometric Association recommends a person have the first eye exam performed between 6 and 12 months of age, a second exam before starting kindergarten, and then routinely every one to two years afterwards, depending on the patient’s health status and any other risk factors present.

No matter what your age, comprehensive eye exams are important for maintaining and preserving your vision for life.

Information provided by Tara J. Cooper, O.D., Lifetime Vision, 5525 Merle Hay Road, Suite 155, Johnston, 259-9009.

Q: How can I prepare my body for winter chores?

A: If your body is not in condition, the common winter chore of snow shoveling can present the potential for spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems.

Without proper conditioning, bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow often results in painful injuries. It can aggravate lower back discs and cause other problems in addition to the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling.

Here are some tips to help you be prepared for the snowy season.

• Maintain your exercise program year-round.

• Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work; rushing the job can lead to injury.

• Wear layers of clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.

• Do some stretching before you grab the shovel.

• Drink plenty of water before and after you shovel.

• If you shovel by hand, use a lightweight, ergonomically designed shovel to reduce back strain.

• Don’t try to throw the snow; walk it to the snow bank..

• Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.

• If you feel sore after shoveling, consider treatment options such as chiropractic care.

Information provided by Dr. Aaron Rector, Active Wellness, 8711 Windsor, Parkway, Suite 7, 867-2900.

Q: What are dental implants?

A: Dental implants are a common and effective way to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or to add retention to dentures.

There are many advantages of implants over other methods of replacing missing teeth such as with bridges or removable partial dentures. An implant is a titanium post that is compatible with the human body. It is surgically placed into the jawbone. After placement, a period of time is given to allow for the bone to grow around the implant and hold it in place. This process, called osseointegration, is what makes implants strong.

During the healing process a temporary crown or denture may be worn. After the allotted amount of healing time, a completely customized permanent crown, bridge or denture is placed on the implant or implants. Patients who are in good general health are typically good candidates for implants. Dental implants are an excellent long-term option for replacing missing teeth and are designed to blend in with your existing smile. Have a conversation with your dentist to see if dental implants may be right for you.

Information provided by Julie Smith, DDS, Johnston Dental, 5541 NW 86th St., Suite 100, Johnston, 276-2500.

Q: How canI reduce holiday stress on my children?

A: The winter holidays are often a stressful time for adults as they plan gatherings, presents, time away from work and travel. But this time of year can also be hard on children.

Schedules, routines and rules can be thrown off at holiday time, which can be challenging and lead to behavioral issues and added stress for everyone. Problems relating to feeding, toilet training, tantrums and discipline can worsen and become harder to handle when families are caught up in the seasonal frenzy. Family outings, excessive food and decorative lights can create sensory overload for some children, particularly those with attention deficit issues or an autism spectrum disorder. Children can struggle with the transitions from school to vacation and back to school, and holiday travel and houseguests can lead to disrupted sleep.

Here are a few simple holiday stress-reducing strategies:

• Stick to your family routine for meals, snacks and bedtime as much as possible, and use social stories or visual supports if needed to prepare for more complex days, opening gifts and sharing. Use a calendar of holiday activities so children know what to expect.

• Reducing kids’ holiday stress looks similar to minimizing your own holiday anxiety. The less stressed you are, the less stressed your children will feel. Exercise, nap, read, listen to music and spend adult time with friends to recharge.

Keep using your positive behavior supports to help shape desired behaviors. Introduce your children to breathing, visualizations, and affirmations. Plan fun activities together! Get a tree at the farm, listen to holiday songs from around the world, or build a snowman. Watch the stress dissipate and turn into laughter and positive memories.

Information provided by Dr. Stacy Carmichael, Ph.D., Pediatric Psychologist, ChildServe, 5406 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, 727-8750.

Q: What is the best workout for holiday traveling?

A: Working out over the holidays and away from home and the gym is easy, fast, and really effective when doing Tabata.

This fast four-minute workout burns as many calories as a 40 to 60 minute run, makes your body adapt and improve quickly, and increases metabolism for the following 36 hours. Tabata exercises does high intensity training (HIT) of an exercise as intense as you can (170 percent VO2 max) for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then another intense exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest, continuing that pattern for 4 minutes. Old aerobic versions of 70 percent VO2 max meant needing a treadmill, heart rate monitor or class to attend, which is not as easy over the holidays.

Picture the workout in a hotel room, guest bedroom or basement away from others: sprint in place, rest, jumping jacks, rest, squat jumps, rest, high knees, rest, mountain climbers, rest, burpees, rest, running tires, rest, basketball rebounds and done. You can exercise in your regular cloths, follow an app for HIT or Tabata on your phone and enjoy dinner with the family. Challenge yourself to do anywhere from one to six times a day.

Information provided by Dr. Juliet O’Donnell, DC, Heartland Chiropractic and Wellness Center, 5521 N.W. 86th St., Johnston, 252-8668.

Q: What are long-term reversible contraceptives?

A: Long acting reversible contraceptive (LARCs) methods — intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants — are the most effective forms of reversible contraceptives available and are safe to use by almost all reproductive-age women. LARCs are the best tools to fight against unintended pregnancies, which currently account for approximately 49 percent of U.S. pregnancies each year.

IUDs and implants are inserted in the doctor’s office. There are two types of IUDs — small T-shaped devices, inserted in the uterus are available. The copper IUD, effective for 10 years, releases a small amount of copper into the uterus which prevents fertilization. The hormonal IUD releases progestin into the uterus that thickens the mucus and thins the uterine lining. It also makes the sperm less active, decreasing the ability of egg and sperm to remain viable in the fallopian tube. Hormonal IUD is effective for 10 years.

The contraceptive implant is a match-sized rod inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It allows the controlled release of an ovulation-suppressing hormone for up to three years. Present day IUDs are much improved and safer than earlier versions. Complications are very rare. IUDs are not abortafacients; they work prior to the time when pregnancy is established. They are safe in the majority of women including adolescents and women who have never had children. Up-front costs for LARCs maybe higher but they are most cost-effective methods in the long run. Women interested in a LARC should consult their physician to see if they are a candidate and review the adverse effects prior to making an informed decision.

Information provided by West Des Moines OBGYN, 4949 Westown Parkway, Suite 140, West Des Moines, 515-223-5466.

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