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Health Q&A

Posted January 09, 2013 in Advice Column, Norwalk

Q: How careful must a person be when cleaning dentures?

A: Dentures are very fragile. Dropping one just a few inches into a sink, say, can be an expensive slip. When you’re handling dentures, stand over a basin full of water or over a plump, folded towel. When they’re not in your mouth, keep them out of reach of children and pets.  Dogs find them irresistible.

Just like natural teeth, dentures have to be kept clean. That will keep them from getting stained and will contribute to the overall health of your mouth. Using a brush that is designed for denture cleaning, wash away all food particles. When buying a denture-cleaning product, make sure it carries the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. That seal means the product has been approved by independent testing for both safety and effectiveness.

Dentures can lose their shape if they dry out, so when you’re not wearing them, keep them in an approved denture-cleaning soak or in water. Don’t put them in hot water, however, because that can warp them. Talk with your dentist about other steps in the proper care of your dentures.

Information provided by Norwalk Family Dentistry, 1101 Chatham Ave, 256-9000

Q: What should I expect before and after total knee replacement surgery?

A: If you are considering having a total knee replacement or already have a surgery scheduled, you may want to consider doing some exercises to increase strength and range of motion in your knee. Research has shown that pre-operative strengthening improves post-operative outcomes and function. If you have questions on what you need to be doing prior to surgery your local physical therapist would be a good person to ask.

For several weeks after the procedure, you may need the assistance of crutches or a walker. Make advance arrangements for transportation home from the hospital and help with everyday tasks such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry. If you live alone, your surgeon’s staff can suggest a temporary caretaker. To make your home safer and easier to navigate during recovery, consider making a total living space on the main floor since climbing stairs can be difficult for a few weeks following surgery.

The healing phase will last approximately three months. During this time the mobility of the knee increases, the discomfort lessens, and ultimately the knee becomes pain free. Physical therapy will help keep you on the right track during the healing process. While at physical therapy you will work on getting your strength and range of motion back, with any pain and swelling you might be having, help with the transition from the walker to walking unassisted, stairs and returning you to your normal life.  If you have any questions regarding knee replacements, please feel free to call any of our 12 Accelerated Physical Therapy clinics or visit us on the web at www.acceleratedrehab.com.

Information provided by Nicole Smith, MPT, Norwalk Physical Therapy, 800 Colonial Circle, Suite 100, Norwalk, 515-953-1310.

Q: How does chiropractic care work?

A: Chiropractic is an overall way of looking at the human body. It’s based on the idea that the body is self-sustaining and self-healing. The body is in essence completely controlled by the brain through its connection via the spinal cord and the vast networks of nerves that make up the body. When this system is not functioning at its peak, the overall performance of the human body is lacking.

In the chiropractic world, drugs and medicine are not utilized as a form of treating a patient. While supplementation and nutrition are almost always a part of the bigger picture, drugs and prescriptions can be viewed as stop gaps to treat symptoms rather than going to the source and treating the real problem.

While it’s often perceived that the chiropractor is solely here to treat back and neck pain, this is simply a small piece of what the profession really is capable of handling. Chiropractors not only treat soft and hard tissue problems such as sciatica and joint pain, but are largely called on to deal with more significant issues. Some of these issues include fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia, headaches and many more.

Information provided by Norwalk Chiropractic, 1228 Sunset, Suite B, 981-9208, www.norwalk-chiropractic.com.

Q: Who is at risk for frostbite, and how can it be avoided?

A: Anyone who is exposed to the elements, unprotected for a long period of time, is at risk. Some conditions that increase risk are: homelessness, fatigue, dehydration and improper clothing for the weather conditions.

Most cases of frostbite are seen in alcoholics, people with psychiatric illness, people involved in car accidents or those experiencing car breakdowns in bad weather. Although many individual don’t always know or acknowledge these dangers, many of these dangers can be reduced or prevented. Also be aware of extreme wet and windy conditions as unpredictable conditions can leave one unprepared.

During extreme cold spells dress for the weather. Layers are best, and be sure to wear gloves/mittens to protect fingertips. Wear two pairs of socks making sure that the inner layer is comprised of synthetic fiber to keep water away from the skin and the outer layer made of wool for increased insulation. Shoes protect the best when they are waterproof. Clothes should fit loosely to avoid a decrease in blood flow. Cover your head, face, nose and ears at all times to protect sensitive and overexposed skin.

The last and most important tip is to always travel with a friend or make sure someone knows your destination and time of arrival when there are extreme weather conditions. These simple tips will help to reduce your risk for frostbite and prepare you for unforeseen circumstances as they pertain to inclement weather.

Information provided by Tami Dickeson, Norwalk Nursing and Rehab, 921 Sunset Drive, Norwalk, 515-981-0604.

Q: What is a cataract?

A: A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or “fogged” with steam.
There may be a misconception about cataract. Cataract is:
• Not a film over the eye.
• Not caused by overusing the eyes.
• Not spread from one eye to the other.
• Not a cause of irreversible blindness.
Common symptoms of cataract include:
• A painless blurring of vision.
• Glare or light sensitivity.
• Frequent eyeglass prescription changes.
• Double vision in one eye.
• Needing brighter light to read.
• Poor night vision.
•Fading or yellowing of colors.
The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that the cataract is present.

Q: What causes cataract?
A: The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Other causes of cataract includef amily history, medical problems, injury to the eye, medications, such as steroids,  long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight, previous eye surgery or unknown factors.

Information provided by Dr. Michael O’Meara, Optometric Associates, 1228 Sunset Drive, Suite A, Norwalk, 515-981-0224

Q: How can I improve my fitness level?

A: Do you want to feel less stressed? Less tired? More in control of your weight and appearance? More healthy? Do you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many other health problems? Believe it or not, there is one thing that can help you do all of this and is doesn’t come in a bottle. It is regular physical exercise.

No one can prescribe the perfect fitness plan for you. You have to figure it out based on what you enjoy doing and what you will continue to do.

Setting your fitness goals
• Pick one aspect of fitness that you want to improve first.
• Pick an activity that you enjoy and are more likely to keep doing.
• Set a one-week goal that you think you can reach. For example, plan to walk 10 minutes at lunch three days a week.
• Start today. Keep a record of what you do.
• When you reach your first goal, reward yourself. Then set a new goal. Once you get used to meeting weekly goals, try setting a one-month goal.

Consistency brings success. Small successes can quickly add up to a level of physical fitness that will make a big difference in your life.

Staying motivated is essential to making physical activity a long-term lifestyle commitment. If you choose activities wisely, your body will let you know how enjoyable becoming more fit can be.

Information from “Healthwise Handbook, A Self-Care Guide for You and Your Family”, provided by Ronda Montgomery, Norwalk Family Physicians, 801 Colonial Circle, 285-3200.

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