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FOCUS ON HEALTH

A Supplement to Times Beacon Record Newspapers INSIDE: • Fitness • Nutrition • Back-to-school prep

TIMES BEACON RECORD NEWS MEDIA


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Focus on HealtH

What’s inside

TIMES BEacon rEcord nEWS MEdIa PUBLISHER Leah S. Dunaief

ART/PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Beth Heller Mason

CIRCULATION MANAGER Courtney Biondo

GENERAL MANAGER Johness Kuisel

ART DEPARTMENT Janet Fortuna Sharon Nicholson

SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Sheila Murray

MANAGING EDITOR Desirée Keegan

ADVERTISING Elizabeth Reuter Bongiorno Laura Johanson Robin Lemkin Sheila Murray Jackie Pickle Judy Sedacca Michael Tessler Minnie Yancey

INTERNET STRATEGY DIRECTOR Rob Alfano

EDITOR Alex Petroski

BUSINESS MANAGER Sandi Gross

EDITORIAL Ernestine Franco ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Kathryn Mandracchia

BUSINESS OFFICE Meg Malangone

4 . . . Protecting eyes from UV rays 5 . . . Medicaid consulting lays out options 6 . . . Chili-lime-crusted tilapia recipe 7 . . . How to find time for daily exercise 8 . . . Symptoms of eustachian tube clogging 9 . . . What to know about HPV vaccine 11 . . Facts on mesothelioma and asbestos 12 . . Tips for alleviating sciatic pain 14 . . Back to school scoliosis screening Times Beacon Record Newspapers are published every Thursday.

Address: PO Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733. Telephone: 631-751-7744. Email address: desk@tbrnewspapers.com;. Fax: 631-751-4165. Website: www.tbrnewsmedia.com. Entire contents copyright 2017.

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Focus on HealtH

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A wide array of sunglasses can protect eyes from potentially damaging ultraviolet radiation.

Eyes are susceptible to ultraviolet rays Thanks to increased awareness about the perils of exposure to ultraviolet rays and skin damage, a greater number of people routinely apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. But while people take steps to prevent sunburns, skin cancer and premature aging, they may fail to consider that UV rays also can damage their eyes. Just as people protect their skin from the sun, so, too, should they safeguard their eyes. Prevent Blindness America warns that the sun is comprised of UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays may hurt central vision by damaging the macula, or a part of the retina at the back of the eye. UVB rays typically affect the front part of the eye or the lens and cornea. The following are some common eye conditions that can be linked to exposure to UV rays.

Some blue light can be beneficial, but some can be harmful to the eyes. Lenses that absorb harmful blue light or block it can prevent retinal damage.

Excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time can cause photokeratitis, which is equivalent to a sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis may occur after spending long hours at the beach or skiing without proper eye protection. UVB rays cause photokeratitis, and these rays can burn the cornea, potentially causing pain and temporary vision loss.

Sunglasses should completely cover the eyes, including the skin on the eyelids and under the eye, to provide adequate protection for the eyes. Wraparound frames will offer additional protection to those who spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight. The AOA says sunglasses should also do the following. • Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. • Screen out between 75 and 90 percent of visible light. • Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection. • Have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition. Consumers should speak with an eye doctor if they have additional questions about eye protection. Prescription lenses can be tinted and treated to offer UV protection.

Photokeratitis

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Macular degeneration

According to the American Optometric Association, macular degeneration is a deterioration of the part of the retina that is responsible for sharp, central vision. In addition to UV rays, chronic exposure to shorter-wavelength visible blue and violet light can be harmful to the retina. The sun and many artificial light sources, such as LEDs and smartphones, emit blue light.

Pterygium

Pterygium is a growth that forms on the outer portion of the eye, or the cornea and conjunctiva. The World Health Organization says that prolonged UV exposure can contribute to this condition. Pterygium may extend over the cornea and reduce vision, requiring surgical removal.

Cataracts

UV exposure also can contribute to the formation of cataracts. Prevent Blindness America says a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, the part of the eye that focuses the light people see.

Sun protection


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Focus on health Understanding all options when it comes to Medicaid By Michele AlBohn Most people think of Medicaid as a road taken by a population that is at or below poverty level. A Medicaid recipient does not have a house, or income, or a bank account. This is completely false. Our neighbors, co-workers and friends can be a Medicaid recipient or know someone who receives Medicaid assistance in some way. Medicaid is a federal- and state-funded program, which does have income and resource tests and is not an “entitlement,” like Medicare. A Medicaid applicant must qualify financially in order to receive coverage and services. The largest payer of nursing home and long-term home health care services is Medicaid. This means seniors in our very own communities and families. Many seniors and their families believe that Medicare is all they need, and if they have a house and a pension they will not qualify for Medicaid. Seniors are also resistant to receiving Medicaid services in some cases because of pride, misinformation and stigma. Seniors are usually surprised to find out Medicare has great limitations and if there is a chronic condition, much of the cost is out of pocket. This creates a problem in our health care system. When a senior is discharged home form a hospitalization or rehabilita-

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Medicaid consultants can help applicants to understand all of their options for care. tion stay and they decline any additional home care assistance, the chances of readmission back to a hospital or rehab rises greatly. Not only does frequent readmissions put the senior at risk for further ill-

nesses, weakness and mounting medical bills, it also affects the quality and cost in our health care system. The New York State Department of Health website states that nursing home costs on

Long Island are approximately $151,596 per year and home health care costs are not far behind. When seniors and their families and loved ones refuse care, or think they cannot afford care, a tremendous burden falls upon families. Children and spouses then turn into caregivers. Being a caregiver can be not only very traumatic, but caregivers expose themselves to health and financial issues as well. This can cause stress for the entire family and even damage family dynamics. Medicaid is not only a primary payer of long-term home care and nursing home care, but it also covers medical transportation, prescriptions and doctor co-payments and adult day care. Medicaid does not replace Medicare nor does it mean that you must drop your secondary plan. Medicaid is always the payer of last resort and a recipient is not required to drop any other health insurance plans. Applying for Medicaid benefits keeps our seniors safe and our families together. Medicaid is a benefit that, if handled properly, can save families a tremendous amount of money while keeping our loved ones healthy and safe. Medicaid recipients have homes, pensions and bank accounts and live right next door. Medicaid consulting is a growing field and is recommended for applicants as a way to understand all options that are available. Michele Albohn is a Certified Medicaid Planner.

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PAGE S6 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • AUGUST 03, 2017

Focus on HealtH Did you know? People who periodically experience difficulty sleeping may benefit from spending more time outdoors. According to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, sleeping outside can be beneficial to the sleep-wake cycle. That’s because spending time under the stars increases melatonin levels in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that controls wakefulness. Higher levels help the body relax and induce sleep. The researchers found that individuals who spent a weekend in the woods camping out at night fell asleep earlier and rose an hour and a half earlier in the morning. For those who don’t like to camp, increasing exposure to daylight and then avoiding sources of artificial light at night can help create a similar effect.

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Chili-lime-crusted tilapia Home cooks love fish because it is flavorful and often simple to prepare. Fish also does not take too long to cook, making it a perfect meal for busy professionals or families. The following recipe for Broiled Chili-Lime-Crusted Tilapia from Laurie McNamara’s “Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy” checks all the boxes, as it’s flavorful, easily prepared and cooks in roughly 20 minutes or less.

Broiled Chili-Lime-Crusted Tilapia Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons) 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed in your palm 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 fresh tilapia fillets Garnish: Lime wedges Torn fresh cilantro leaves Pico de gallo Place the oven rack in the top portion of the oven. Crack the oven door and preheat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly brush the foil with olive oil. In a shallow dish, combine the olive oil, lime juice, cornstarch, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk to blend. Dip both sides of each tilapia fillet into the spice mixture and use your fingers to coat evenly. Place the tilapia on the prepared baking sheet with the bottom facing up. Broil for 4 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily. Serve with lime wedges and torn cilantro or top with a few spoonfuls of pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

Makes about 2 cups 3 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and diced 1/3 cup finely diced red onion 2 scallions, sliced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 tablespoons minced jalapeño 1 teaspoon minced garlic Juice of 1/2 lime 1 teaspoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

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In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño and garlic. Add the lime juice and oil, season with the salt, and stir to combine. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.


AUGUST 03, 2017 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • PAGE S7

focus on health

Can’t find time to exercise? Try some of these tips

Many professionals are adept at multitasking in the office, and those same skills can be applied when trying to find time for exercise. Instead of plopping down on the couch to watch television, bring a tablet to the gym or the basement

hosting work meetings in a conference room, take the meeting outside, walking around the office complex while discussing projects rather than sitting stationary around a conference table. At home, take the family along to the gym or go for nightly after-dinner walks around the neighborhood instead of retiring to the living room to watch television. Stock photo

In lieu of traditional date nights, couples looking to find time to exercise can enroll in classes at the gym or exercise together when they would otherwise be dining out. and stream a favorite show while on the treadmill or the elliptical. When running errands around town, ride a bicycle or walk instead of driving.

Cut down on screen time

A 2016 report from the Nielsen Company revealed that the average adult in the United States spent more than 10 hours each day consuming media. That includes

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Involving others can make it easier for adults to find time to exercise. Instead of

Adults who can’t find time to exercise during the week can redefine date night with their significant others. Instead of patronizing a local restaurant on Friday or Saturday night, enroll in a fitness class together. Parents can still hire babysitters to look after their youngsters while they go burn calories instead of packing them on at local eateries. Finding time to exercise can be difficult for busy adults. But those committed to getting healthier can find ways to do so even when their schedules are booked.

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time spent using smartphones, tablets, personal computers and other devices. By reducing that screen time by just one hour per day, adults can create enough free time to meet the WHO-recommended exercise requirements.

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Embrace multitasking

‘... even the busiest adults should make concerted efforts to find time to exercise.’

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Many adults admit to having little or no time to exercise, and statistics support the notion that men and women simply aren’t exercising enough. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 21 percent of adults ages 18 and older met the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. The World Health Organization recommends that healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, while also performing muscle-strengthening activities involving the major muscle groups at least two days per week. Commitments to work and family can make it hard to find time to visit the gym or exercise at home. But the benefits of regular exercise are so substantial that even the busiest adults should make concerted efforts to find time to exercise. The following are a handful of ways to do just that.


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Focus on health

How to alleviate eustachian tube problems the back of the nose. Normally, this tube opens with every swallow or yawn to act as a pressure-equalizing valve for the middle ear. It also serves to drain the mucus produced by the lining of the middle ear. At times, the tube can get blocked, causing a negative pressure that draws the eardrum inward. When this occurs, dull or muffled hearing is sometimes evident, and individuals may feel pain and pressure. Colds, sinus trouble, allergies and other ailments can contribute to eustachian tube dysfunction. The pressure change within the

ear as well as a buildup of mucus can lead to trouble and a visit to a doctor. In many cases, eustachian tubes will become clear again on their own. However, some doctors will prescribe a decongestant nasal spray to help the process along. If an ear infection is suspected, antibiotics may be prescribed. Various all-natural remedies, such as holding one’s nose and blowing to try to clear the congestion, can be attempted as well. Those suffering from eustachian tube congestion should consult their physicians to develop courses of treatment.

Did you know?

Studies have shown that music can have a beneficial impact on both mental and physical health. In a meta-analysis of 400 studies, researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that music can reduce stress and boost the immune system. That’s because listening to music increases the body’s production of immunoglobin A, an antibody that plays an critical role in the function of the immune system and cells that attack viruses. A 2013 study even found that music can help children during visits to the emergency room. Researchers at the University of Alberta studied 42 children between the ages of 3 and 11, discovering that those who listened to relaxing music while having an IV inserted reported less pain than children who did not listen to music. In addition, children who listened to music during the administration of the IV exhibited less anguish than the children who did not listen to music. Health care workers even noted the ease of administering IVs to children who were listening to music compared to patients who were not listening to music.

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Ear problems come and go, and some may be the result of seasonal allergies or the accumulation of wax or water inside the ear canal. But some ear problems originate deeper within the anatomy of the ear, in an area called the eustachian tube. Dysfunction or clogging of the eustachian tube can create different symptoms and problems that will need to be addressed. Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, says the eustachian tube is a narrow tube that connects the middle ear to


AUGUST 03, 2017 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • PAGE S9

Focus on health

General Surgery Associates, LLC General/Breast/Laparoscopic Surgery

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Since 2011, the CDC has recommended everyone — boys and girls — receive the human papillomavirus vaccine.

Facts about the human papillomavirus vaccination The vaccine for the human papillomavirus, a virus transmitted through sexual contact, has been the topic of increased discussion over the last decade. Here are some facts to know about the vaccine. •In 2006 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the civilian population of the United States, recommended that females begin receiving routine vaccination for the virus beginning at age 11 or 12. Since 2011, the ACIP has recommended the same for males. In 2016, the ACIP updated previous recommendations to suggest a two-dose schedule for those who initiate the series between the ages of 9 and 14, where previously a three-dose schedule was recommended. Three doses continues to be the recommendation for those beginning the series after age 15. •The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that all boys and girls receive the vaccination as a means to prevent cancer and other associated diseases. The CDC estimates that about 79 million Americans are currently infected with the virus, with 14 million people becoming newly infected annually and about 31,000 cases result in cancer among men and women. •The virus exists in many who contract it free of symptoms and it disappears

within two years, making it difficult to recognize without treatment and even more essential to be vaccinated for, according to the CDC. •In 2014, the CDC published a report analyzing health events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, an early-warning system that helps the CDC and Food and Drug Administration to monitor problems following vaccinations, examining reports of adverse events associated with Gardasil, one of three FDA-approved HPV vaccines, which have only been in existence since 2006. From June 2006 through March 2014 about 92 percent of the reports were classified as nonserious. •The most common side effects of HPV vaccines include fainting, dizziness, nausea, headache, fever and reactions at the injection site. •Opponents of the vaccination have argued it has only been around for little more than a decade and a full picture is needed before recommending everyone get it, and that most cases of HPV clear up on their own. The website www.Cancer. gov says the reduction of people carrying the virus would result in a reduction of cases that lead to various cancers. For more information visit www.cdc. gov and ask your doctor about the pros and cons of HPV vaccines.

Gallbladder disease is a common condition which may arise from gallstones or dysfunction of the gallbladder wall itself.   Cholecystitis (inflammation or infection of the gallbladder) may develop acutely or may take on a chronic form.  Most frequently it is caused by gallstones, which can form at any age, but most commonly in our forties or beyond.  Typical symptoms include Randall E. Schrager, MD FACS pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, either in the middle or under the ribs on the right side.  Often, the pain is vague or pressure-like, may radiate to the back, and may be associated with nausea.  Gallbladder “attacks” generally occur when the gallbladder is in the act of contracting, an event that is usually triggered by eating; Andrew N. Zeniou, MD FACS especially after eating the fatty foods we all love (….think burgers, pizza, ice cream, etc…), but may also occur with less fatty foods.  It is not uncommon to be awakened from sleep with symptoms.  Patients often mistake the symptoms of a gallbladder attack for “agita” or “heartburn.”  A gallbladder attack can be of varying intensity and duration, sometimes lasting only a few Colleen McCloy, MD FACS minutes, but sometimes hours.  An attack can even be “silent,” producing few symptoms; this is especially common in diabetics, and can lead to severe infections.  Acute cholecystitis (acute infection of the gallbladder) occurs when signs of an infection occur along with the pain or when there is pain that won’t go away and is associated with tenderness.   Most gallbladder conditions can usually be diagnosed with blood tests and an abdominal ultrasound, although other tests are sometimes needed as well.  Aside from cholecystitis, gallstones can also occasionally be forced out of the gallbladder causing blockage of the bile duct and/or pancreatitis, two conditions that usually require urgent hospitalization and inpatient treatment.   There are a host of much less common conditions, including gallbladder polyps and cancer, that can affect the gallbladder, but which are beyond the scope of this article.  We would be happy to discuss these with you in our office.  Surgery is the most common treatment for gallbladder disease and is generally very well tolerated by most patients.  Removal of the gallbladder can almost always be performed laparoscopically, through a few tiny incisions with the use of a camera that is placed in the abdomen.  Almost all patients are able to go home within 24 hours of the procedure and most can go home the same day!    The surgeons at General Surgery Associates are all Board certified, have practiced at John T. Mather and St. Charles Hospitals and in our community for over 25 years. We have successfully performed many thousands of laparoscopic gallbladder procedures, as well as countless other procedures including hernia repairs, colon and bowel resections, breast surgeries and many others.  If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss any of these, or any other surgical issue, please call our office.  Our staff is friendly, professional, courteous and always happy to assist. ©150402

Our office is located at: 226 N. Belle Mead Rd - Suite C East Setauket, NY 11733 Tel (631) 706–0018


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Avoid back injuries by choosing the right backpack

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Style should be secondary to function and comfort when shopping for backpacks to help avoid developing back problems.

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Finding the right backpack is an essential component of back-to-school shopping. Children may have their own ideas of what’s in style, but parents should look for backpacks that are functional before factoring in style. Marrying form and function together can be challenging, but it’s necessary to prevent students from developing back problems. But parents must give consideration to more than just the size of their children’s backpacks. Depending on school schedules, students may be carrying backpacks for up to 10 hours per day, five days per week. Backpacks may be filled with several pounds of stuff, such as textbooks, binders, laptops and other supplies, potentially leading to injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries every year. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that the weight of a backpack should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight. But many students pack their bags with much more weight than that. Improperly sized, worn and overstuffed backpacks can injure joints and lead to neck, back and shoulder injuries. They also may affect children’s posture.

Choose a streamlined model Select a backpack that will get the job done without much added bulk. Many backpacks have been designed to hold technological devices as more and more schools integrate technology into the classroom. A less bulky bag might be lighter and easy to carry.

Consider shopping at a sporting goods store Employees at camping and sporting goods retailers understand how to fit backpacks for hikers and outdoor adventurers. They can help measure a student and find a pack that will fit his or her body frame. Also, these retailers may have a wider selection of backpacks than some other stores, increasing the chances of finding the right fit.

Select a pack with a waist strap According to the American Chiropractic Association, the body is not designed to carry items hanging from shoulders. By using the waist strap in conjunction with taut shoulder straps, students can distribute the weight in their backpacks over their hip bones instead of the shoulders. The padded and adjustable shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide. All straps should be used each time the pack is worn.

Load backpacks properly Heavy items should be near the center bottom to distribute the load, rather than placed on top. Students should only carry what is necessary, visiting lockers or desks as needed to lighten their packs. Backpack fit and functionality is something parents should take seriously when shopping for school supplies.


AUGUST 03, 2017 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • PAGE S11

focus on health

What to know about mesothelioma and asbestos by Charles MaCGreGor Last year, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act, giving the United States Environmental Protection Agency a few new tools to help better regulate chemicals and protect human and environmental health. Among those tools was a requirement to have ongoing risk evaluations for chemicals to determine their risks to people. When the agency released its list of the first 10 chemicals slated for review, it was a parade of hard to pronounce names that would leave the average person scratching their head, but the list also included a common name with a long history in the United States. Fifty years ago, when it was in its heyday, asbestos was found in products throughout the home. Vinyl flooring, furnace gaskets and cement, roofing shingles and even crock pots and ironing boards were all known to contain the mineral. Asbestos performs well when it comes to resisting heat and was often included in products used in applications where a lot of heat would be

generated. But the material also carries a dark secret in that it’s capable of causing several awful diseases, including asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, and mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma is an especially awful cancer because it’s often aggressive and displays symptoms that could be mistaken for a variety of illnesses. By the time it’s actually diagnosed, however, mesothelioma is usually in its later stages when the prognosis is extremely poor and there aren’t many options for treatment. Unfortunately, for many people battling the disease, they weren’t exposed recently, but rather decades ago while working in manufacturing, mining or in the military. Invisible asbestos fibers can become airborne when products are damaged and pose a significant threat of inhalation or ingestion. When the TSCA was signed into law, asbestos was heavily regulated and its usage has since steadily declined. But when the EPA tried to finally put an end to asbestos in 1989, the final rule banning the material was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals two

years later due to a lack of “substantial evidence” despite tens of thousands of pages accumulated during a 10-year study. After the colossal failure to ban asbestos, the EPA didn’t attempt any additional bans using the old TSCA rules. The reason the asbestos evaluation matters so much is because these amendments to the TSCA are supposed to ease burdens and make it easier for the EPA to react swiftly to regulate and ban chemicals that are too dangerous for people. It matters because there is proposed legislation known as the Regulatory Accountability Act that would, in essence, resurrect some of the same barriers intentionally removed from the regulatory process. In the case of asbestos, this could delay a possible ban by years while the agency sifts through red tape and challenges from industry lobbyists. A massive cut in funding to the EPA would severely cripple the agency and force it to do more with less, when it can barely keep up with the work it does now. And President Donald Trump’s (R) “2-for1” executive order, which forces agencies to remove two rules for every new one added without any

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Those living in older homes should be especially cautious about asbestos. additional costs, is a direct assault against our health. It forces agencies to pick and choose what rules get enforced and puts the balance sheet above our safety. The EPA is under a lot of stress, but we also need to understand that the failed asbestos ban nearly 30 years ago is a cautionary tale. If there’s any hope of seeing the

material banned, the stars have to align. There’s still an air of cautious optimism, but the deck is heavily stacked against it. Charles MacGregor is a Community Engagement Specialist with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. He works to raise awareness about environmental policies related to the continued use of asbestos.

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PAGE S12 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • AUGUST 03, 2017

Focus on HealtH

For mature audiences only Six things to know about exercise and sciatic pain by SUNITA MAKHIJANI Ah, the pain-free life. When we were not much younger, say, in our 50s and 60s, we used our bodies differently. Every day we bent and strained; we stretched our muscles, and demanded their strength. And, we were sore the next day, but we kept doing it anyway, right? Nowadays, many of us spend our days sitting or driving, rarely asking our muscles to do anything but lay there mostly unused. Sadly, this can result in many kinds of ongoing pain and ailments, but luckily you can avoid or reduce most of these. Note: always have your doctor diagnose your pain before attempting any exercise routine.

1. More than a pain in the butt

If you experience pain in your lower back and thigh area, your doctor may diagnose sciatica. This usually involves muscles that aren’t regularly stretched and kept strong. Sciatic nerve pain can affect the hips, thighs, buttocks and lower back. Exercises designed for sciatic pain can help to varying degrees.

2. Just Do It

Daily practice is key in your strengthening and pain relieving exercises. Practicing these exercises two or three times a week is simply not enough to make a noticeable difference. If avoiding or relieving pain is a priority in your life, you must make time for an exercise session on a regular basis. Twice a day (morning and evening) is a common recommendation. Without regularly doing exercise, you allow your back muscles to deteriorate and weaken further, making your back less able to support activities and more likely to incur further injury.

3. Get to the Root of the Problem

If you have long-term or moderate to severe sciatica pain, see your primary care doctor first. She will exam you and recommend treatment and a good physical therapist to show you recommended exercises and evaluate your range of motion. Sciatic pain is not always truly associated with the sciatic nerve and even when it is there are many possible causes, each with its own solution.

4. Two standard movements to relieve sciatica

Did you know?

Two common sciatic nerve pain exercises include “lower trunk rotations” and “bridges.” Once your doctor has cleared you to do either of these exercises, here are the proper methods. Lower trunk rotations: Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent and your arms at your side. Slowly lean both bent knees to one side, do not force them,

Daily exercise and stretching are keys to relieving sciatic pain, according to a geriatric specialist. and keep your mid and upper back flat on the floor. Bring your knees back to center and repeat in the other direction. Do several of these at your first session, each day increasing the number. Bridges: Begin in the same position (knees bent, arms at side) and raise the hips up so your weight rests on your feet and shoulders. Lower the hips almost to the floor for a brief pause and then raise them again; rest your weight fully on the floor between sets. Do several in your first session, increasing the number each day. Stop if you feel any great pain during these exercises. Go easy the first few sessions until you’ve built up muscles in these areas. Treat your lower back, hip and thigh areas to a relaxing warm bath or a warm compress after you’ve completed each session. This will help your muscles to relax and rejuvenate.

5. Stretches

Many of the most helpful exercises for sciatica involve some type of stretching because the muscles in

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the lower back, hip and thigh area are usually very tense and stiff. As with any new exercise, stretch slowly, move only until you feel the gentle pull in the muscle but not a sharp or searing pain, hold it still (don’t bounce) and breathe deeply throughout the stretch. Gentle stretches, combined with repeats of the two rotations described above, help your muscles to reassume their natural relaxed state, which reduces the muscle tension that causes much of your pain.

6. As always, first take the natural approach

If you’re diagnosed with typical sciatica, take the natural approach. Stay away from pain medications and invest in gentle exercise and topical solutions first. Mature Audience Tip: For as long as you live, it’s mandatory to do a simple daily workout in order to keep common pain and other problems away. Make time for exercise in your day and reap the rewards. Dr. Sunita Makhijani, M.D., is a geriatric specialist.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are no safe levels of lead. Lead is particularly harmful to children’s health. Exposure to lead can stunt children’s growth while also contributing to behavioral and learning problems. Anemia, reduced growth of fetuses in pregnant women, cardiovascular effects and reproductive problems also are side effects of lead exposure. Many people once came into contact with lead via lead-based paints, which have been banned in the United States for consumer use since 1978. But lead also can be lurking in water supplies. The EPA says that between 10 and 20 percent of instances of lead exposure can be traced to contaminated water. Homes built before 1986 are the biggest risk factors for lead plumbing. As of of a law passed in January 2014, all newly installed water fixtures, pipes and fittings must meet new lead-free requirements. But within the United States, public water suppliers and existing homes do not need to retrofit. The National Drinking Water Advisory Council found around 7.3 million lead service lines currently deliver water to customers. Homeowners can request testing through their local water supplier or conduct certified home tests.


AUGUST 03, 2017 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • PAGE S13

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PAGE S14 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • AUGUST 03, 2017

Focus on HealtH Before school starts is the perfect time to check for scoliosis The leisurely days of summer are nearly over, and it’s almost time to reestablish healthy habits and back-to-school routines. In addition to dental checkups and annual physicals, pediatric medical specialists recommend adding a scoliosis screening to back-to-school checklists. Scoliosis, a musculoskeletal disorder that causes an abnormal curvature of the spine or backbone (sometimes resembling an “S” or “C”), is the most common deformity of the spine, affecting an estimated 6 to 9 million people in the United States. Certain conditions can cause scoliosis, including muscle diseases, birth defects or injuries, but the most common scoliosis is idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown. Scoliosis is most commonly diagnosed between 10 and 15 years of age, during periods of rapid growth. Although 10 percent of adolescents may have the condition, not all will need care. “Because most causes are unknown, early detection through routine screenings is key to providing the best possible outcome,” said Amer Samdani, chief of surgery for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia.

Signs of scoliosis

Scoliosis can be hereditary, and it is recommended that a child who has a relative with the condition receive regular checkups for early detection as they are 20 percent more likely to develop the condition. Pediatric medical experts recommend females be screened at least twice at ages 10 and 12 and males at either age 13 or 14. Children and teens with scoliosis rarely exhibit symptoms, and sometimes the con-

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Clockwise from above, doctor’s recommend back-to-school checkups should include scoliosis screening; 10-year-old swimmer Katie Lyons detected her case of scoliosis early, which gave her family more treatment options; and doctors recommend scoliosis screenings at age 10 and 12 for girls and 13 and 14 for boys.

dition is not obvious until the curvature of the spine becomes severe. In some cases, your child’s spine may appear crooked or his or her ribs may protrude. Some other markers to watch for in a child who has scoliosis are: • Clothes not fitting correctly or hems not hanging evenly • Uneven shoulders, shoulder blades, ribs, hips or waist • Entire body leaning to one side • Appearance or texture of ribs sticking up on one side when bending forward • Head not properly centered over the body

Diagnosing scoliosis

When confirming a diagnosis of scoliosis, a doctor will confer with you and your child while also reviewing your child’s medical history; conducting a full examination of your child’s back, chest, feet, legs, pelvis and skin; taking a series of X-rays; measuring curves; locating the apex of the curve; and identifying the pattern of the curve.

Treatment of scoliosis

According to Samdani, there’s no onesize-fits-all treatment for scoliosis. “Some cases will just need to be

Did you know?

watched; others will need physical therapy, bracing or surgical procedures to stop the curve from progressing,” he said. For more information on scoliosis screenings, care and treatment, visit www. shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/scoliosis.

A life-changing discovery

For competitive swimmer Katie Lyons, a love for the sport began at 7 months old when her toes touched the pool’s water for the first time. At age 4, Katie swam in her first meet. Weeks before she turned 10, her coach observed a rib cage protrusion that looked similar to another teammate who had been diagnosed with scoliosis during routine stretching exercises in practice, and contacted her parents. The next day, her pediatrician confirmed the life-changing discovery: She had scoliosis. Within a week of being diagnosed, Katie traveled to Shriners Hospitals for Children, where she began treatment for an “S” curvature of her spine and was given a 98 percent chance of needing surgery. She was fitted for a brace, which she wore 20 hours a day and only took off for swim practice and bathing. Now on her fourth brace, she has been removed from the surgical list

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and hopes to continue to avoid surgery as she goes through her adolescent growth spurts, which for many scoliosis patients can send their curves into fast-forward. Early detection gave Katie a wider range of options for the treatment of her scoliosis. The strength of her core and daily stretching from swimming has helped manage and lower her double curves.

App helps parents detect signs of scoliosis

You can also check your child’s spine for scoliosis with the help of your smartphone through the SpineScreen application — available for free in the iTunes and Google Play stores. For more information on the app and the importance of routine screening, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/ scoliosis. To be used as an initial at-home check, the app can detect abnormal curves when the phone is moved along a child’s spine and determine if a follow-up visit with a doctor is necessary to confirm a potential diagnosis. If your child has scoliosis or any other orthopedic condition, Shriners Hospitals for Children has 20 locations in the United States, Mexico and Canada that provide expert care.

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AUGUST 03, 2017 • FOCUS ON HEALTH • PAGE S15

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