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Health Q&A

Posted October 10, 2012 in Advice Column, Norwalk

Q: How can I find relief from back pain?

A: Back pain is often precipitated by weakening of the core muscles. These muscles, which include the abdominals as well as the muscles in the back, hips and pelvis, control the body while the arms and legs are moving and working. When one or more of the core muscles are weak, the group no longer works in harmony, and our backs can feel the effects.

We often think that going to the gym or doing “ab” work at home is going to help. In fact, it may do just the opposite. Bad form or incorrect exercises can worsen back pain, making you more susceptible to other injuries; so learning the correct way to train the core muscles with proper technique is important.

Physical therapy can help isolate the weak musculature and train the muscles to work in sequence to support and protect your body. Known as core stabilization, it keeps your spine and body stable, helping you stay balanced when you move. Core stability benefits everyone, and may be effective for various health conditions, including back pain.

If you would like more information on how to build a strong core, please contact our clinic directly at 515-953-1310 and schedule a complimentary injury evaluation.

Information provided by Gayle Traver, LPN, BS, Norwalk Physical Therapy, 800 Colonial Circle, Suite 100, Norwalk, 515-953-1310.

Q: How can I avoid spreading the flu?

A: It is flu season again. Below are a few tips to help stop the spread of the flu.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Do not reuse tissues.
• Clean your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Make sure the hand sanitizer is at least 62 percent alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This will reduce the risk of germs entering your body.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home if you are sick, especially if running a fever. The flu is contagious, and you don’t want to make others sick.
• Practice good health habits. This includes plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. It is especially important for some people to get vaccinated unless contraindicated by their physicians. These people would include people who are at high risk for developing complications like pneumonia if they get the flu, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people who live with or care for others who are at high risk for developing serious complications.

It is recommended that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as the 2012-2013 flu season starts. You can get your flu shot at many places, including the health department, your doctor’s office, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, and some employers even offer them. For all questions concerning whether you should or should not get a flu shot, it is always best to contact your physician.

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

Q: What role does good vision play in my child’s education?

A: A good education for your child means good schools, good teachers  and good vision. Your child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. It has been estimated that as much as 80 percent of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. So when his or her vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation will suffer.

Some of the visual skills needed for school are clear near and distance vision, binocular coordination, eye movement skills, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye/hand coordination.

Signs that may indicate a child has vision problems include frequent eye rubbing or blinking, short attention span, avoiding reading or other close activities, frequent headaches, covering one eye, titling head to one side, an eye turning in or out, seeing double and losing place when reading.

If any of these things are occurring, your child will have to work harder. Because vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the optometrist at least every one to two years.

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

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 Band-Aids 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,

Q: What exactly is the flu, and how can I avoid it this season?

A: Influenza is a viral illness that commonly occurs in the fall and winter and affects many people at once. Flu is not the same as the common cold — the symptoms of flu are usually more severe and come on quite suddenly. Although a person with flu feels very sick, the illness seldom leads to more serious complications. However, flu can be dangerous for babies and older adults and people with some chronic conditions.

    Prevention. Get a flu vaccination each fall. Depending on your age and medical conditions, you can get a flu shot or receive the flu mist. Consider getting vaccinated annually. The vaccine can be given to anyone over the age of 6 months.

Keep up your resistance to infection by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest and exercising regularly.

Avoid exposure to the flu virus. Wash your hands often, and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth.

Our clinic is currently stocked with flu vaccine, both the shot and mist. Call Norwalk Family Physicians at 515-285-3200 and schedule your appointment today.

Information provided by Ronda Montgomery, Norwalk Family Physicians, 801 Colonial Circle, 285-3200.

Q: Did George Washington really have wooden false teeth?

A: Our first president was plagued with dental difficulties, losing most of his teeth to periodontal (gum) disease while still in his 20s. Contrary to popular belief, though, Washington never had wooden dentures. They were made from gold, elephant ivory, hippopotamus tusk and human teeth. A set is on display at Mount Vernon, his Virginia home. Modern dentures are commonly made with acrylic and porcelain.

One of Washington’s dentists was a fellow named John Greenwood. In 1790, Greenwood adapted his mother’s foot-operated spinning wheel to create the first-known dental drilling machine. Washington lost his teeth long before 1913, the year the phrase “dental hygiene” was coined in Bridgeport, Conn., where Dr. Alfred Civilion Fones started a school of hygiene. The school remains in operation today as part of the University of Bridgeport.

The earliest known reference of a dentist, by the way, dates to 2600 B.C. An inscription on the tomb of an Egyptian scribe named Hesy-Re calls him “the greatest of those who deal with teeth.” The practice of dentistry has come a long way.

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

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