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September 15, 2010 Vol. 5, No. 12


Publisher

Bob Williams Executive Editor

Gary Metro Editor

Cara Recine

618-351-5075 • cara.recine@thesouthern.com Advertising Director

Abby HatďŹ eld

618-351-5024 • abby.hatfield@thesouthern.com Art Direction/Design/Production

Rhonda M. Ethridge

rhonda.ethridge@thesouthern.com

COVER STORY Cover Story

710 N. Illinois Ave. Carbondale, Illinois 62901 618-529-5454 • 800-228-0429 fax 618-529-3774 www.thesouthern.com/health

SEPTEMBER 15, 2010 In This Issue Welcome!

6

I’m Sick

Is your house making you ill, too?

Circulation/Database Marketing Coordinator

Kathy Kelton 618-351-5049

Online Coordinator jennifer.dart@thesouthern.com

The Southern Health Magazine is a monthly publication of The Southern Illinoisan. Contact us via mail at 710 N. Illinois Ave., Carbondale, IL 62901, or at PO Box 2108, Carbondale, IL 62902. Copyright 2010 by The Southern Illinoisan. The Southern Illinoisan (USPS 258-980) is owned by Lee Enterprises, Inc. of Davenport, Iowa. All rights reserved. For more information call 618-529-5454 or 618-997-3356, or visit us online.

Health News Upcoming Events Age to Perfection Good drug, bad drug Pet Health His Health Kids’ Health Her Health

INSIDE Every Issue

J. C. Dart

3 4 5 8 9 10 11 11

Let’s admit it: There are times when reading about a health or medical issue can be a little frightening. Given a list of symptoms, some of us imagine that we might have a problem and worry about what we can do. Most of the time, an active physical and social life fueled by good nutrition is great protection. other times, despite all our best eorts, we Metro still might have to deal with illness. The good news about this month’s cover story – “Is Your House Making You Sick, Too?â€? – is that if there is a problem, we can do something about it relatively quickly and painlessly. a home can house many potential health threats: mold, radon, bad air; but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Writer Jodi Hawkins tells us about what could be happening in your home; and, perhaps more importantly, she talked to experts who help recine us ďŹ gure out how to rid a home of toxins or issues that might be hurting us. It’s time to give your house a check-up. Find out how on Page 6. In our second story, “Good Drug, Bad Drug,â€? writer Joanna Gray helps us sort through the endless information about medications and their eects. Sometimes, what the drug does – in addition to treating a problem – needs as much attention as the illness itself. How do you decide if taking a certain drug is worth some pretty terrible side eects? How do you know when you have no choice? Get all the information you need in the story, which begins on Page 8. and don’t forget to read Dr. neil Sharma’s column, age to Perfection. He addresses issues surrounding dementia and what we need to know about preventing it, treating it and caring for someone who has it. It begins on Page 5. – Cara recine

Comments and suggestions?

We look forward to hearing from you. Send an e-mail to cara.recine@thesouthern.com For the latest health and fitness news, pick up Tuesday’s Southern Illinoisan for Mind & Body news. Check out www.thesouthern.com/lifestyles for more features.

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FDA issues warning over green tea beverages The makers of Canada Dry ginger ale and Lipton tea have been issued warning letters for making unproven nutritional claims about their green tea beverages, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. One letter was issued to Dr. Pepper Snapple Group about its labeling of Canada Dry Sparkling Tea Ginger ale, while the other was sent to Unilever Inc. over labeling and website information about its Lipton Green Tea, the Associated Press reported. The FDA told Dr. Pepper Snapple Group that the ingredients in Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger

Ale â&#x20AC;&#x153;are not nutrients with recognized antioxidant activityâ&#x20AC;? and the product does not meet federal requirements to carry the claim that it is â&#x20AC;&#x153;enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C.â&#x20AC;? In the warning letter to Unilever, the FDA said antioxidant labeling claims on Lipton Green Tea do no follow federal guidelines. The agency also challenged information on the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website, the AP reported. The companies were given 15 days to respond to the warning letters and explain what action they will take to correct the issues.

Brass instruments might be linked to lung condition People who play brass musical instruments such as the saxophone may be at increased risk for an allergic lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), according to researchers. HP may develop when these musicians unknowingly inhale mold and bacteria from their instruments. Shortness of breath and coughing are symptoms of HP, which can develop into a more dangerous fibrosis, ABC News reported. The American and European researchers looked at cases involving a trombone player and two saxophone players who developed HP. Their findings appear in the journal Chest. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t shocking, nor do I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very common,â&#x20AC;? Martin Blaser, chairman of medicine at New York University and a specialist in infectious diseases, told ABC News. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My guess is these are isolated events and somebody got unlucky.â&#x20AC;?

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upcoming events

Southern Illinois Workshops and Seminars

For a good cause American Red Cross blood drives, Southern Illinois

Sept 15: 2-6 p.m. american Legion Post 127, Murphysboro Sept. 20: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Heartland regional Medical Center, Marion Sept. 21: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Memorial Hospital, Carbondale Sept. 24: 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Christopher high School, Christopher Sept. 30: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Helia Healthcare, Carbondale Oct. 5: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Southern Illinois University Student Center, Carbondale Oct. 6: 2:30-6:20 p.m. Shawnee amish Church, Campbell Hill Oct. 7: 1-5 p.m. Marshall Browning Hospital, Du Quoin Oct. 7: 1-6 p.m. american Legion Hall, Steeleville Oct. 7: 2-7 p.m. St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Pinckneyville

Conferences, Workshops and Special Programs Breast Exam Self Training

When: 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 Where: The Breast Center, University Mall, Carbondale Registration: Valerie Baker, 618-457-5200 ext. 67128 Pre-registration is required. Space is limited. Free.

Lunch and Learn: Chronic Back Pain

When: noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 Where: St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Cafeteria Conference room, Murphysboro Registration: 877-480-4040 Dr. Gerson Criste, from the Southern Illinois Medical Services will present program on chronic back pain, common causes and treatment. $3 fee includes complimentary lunch.

Bariatric Information Sessions

When: 11 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Sept. 16 Where: Herrin Hospital Conference room B/C Registration: 618-988-6171 Program presented by Dr. naresh ahuja, M.D.

Bariatric Information Sessions

When: 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday, oct. 7, 21 and 28 Where: Fairfield Inn and Suites, 217 Potomac Blvd., Mount Vernon Registration: 618-988-6171 Program presented by Dr. naresh ahuja, M.D.

Support Groups When: 10 a.m. Saturday, oct. 2 Where: The Breast Center, University Mall, Carbondale n

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When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 21 and 28 and Tuesdays oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26 Where: Christian Covenant Fellowship Church, Carterville Registration: 618-549-0721 ext. 65291

Look Good, Feel Better

When: Tuesday, oct. 5 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: 618-998-9898, option 3

United Ostomy Association Support Group When: 10 a.m. Thursday, oct. 14 Where: Herrin Hospital Registration: 618-988-6106

SIH Mended Little Hearts

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 and Thursday, oct. 28 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Conference room C Registration: Stephanie Hill 618-318-2863 Mended Little Hearts connects families in crisis with other parents who have survived the shock of learning a child has a heart problem, navigated the maze of medical decisions and procedures and mapped out a plan for the future. The group meets the fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. Free.

St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Bariatric Weight Loss Support Group

When: 6-7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27 and Monday, oct. 25 Where: St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital, Mount Vernon Registration: 888-257-6098 The group meets on the fourth Monday of every month and is open to anyone who has undergone a bariatric procedure or is interested in learning more about weight loss surgery or medically managed weight loss.

SIH BabyTALK

When: noon-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 Where: Southern Illinois Healthcare, room 101 a-D Registration: 877-480-4040 Program presented by Dr. amar Sawar of neurology and arthritis Clinic. Learn symptoms, treatments and prevention of these temporarily debilitating headaches. $3 fee includes complimentary lunch.

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‘I Lost a Child’ Support Group

Classes, Seminars and Events

Lunch and Learn: Migraine Headaches

Women With Hope

Registration: 618-521-3915 Support for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Sept 16, 23 and 30 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: SIH Physician referral and Event registration, 866-744-2468 This program, facilitated by a child development professional, encourages parents to create nurturing relationships with their children and reinforce positive parenting practices. The program is sponsored by Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Southern region Early Childhood Programs and WSIU Public Broadcasting. The program is free.

SIH Breastfeeding Basics Class

When: 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: SIH Physician referral and Event registration Center, 866-744-2468 Learn the benefits that breastfeeding provides to both baby and mother. a certified lactation consultant will share information and give suggestions to help get breastfeeding off on a good start. Free.

September 15, 2010

Saturday Morning Yoga

When: 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 Where: one o one Yoga, Carbondale Registration: Shanti Miller, 618-457-7896 This yoga class cultivates the positive mind and heart already embodied in and through yoga practice. Learn precise alignment of the body and coordination of movement with the breath while exploring and expressing the deeper attitudes of the poses from the inside out; $12 drop-in price. Packages available at discounted price.

SIH Life with Baby

When: 6-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: SIH Physician referral and Event registration Center 866-744-2468 MHC continues to empower parents by offering an opportunity to gain knowledge and comfort with baby basic care. Prospective parents are asked to bring a baby doll and receiving blanket to the class. The class is free.

St. Elizabeth’s Evening Childbirth Class

When: 6:15-8:45 p.m. Wednesdays through oct. 6 Where: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville Registration: 618-234-2120 ext. 2300 This six-week series teaches relaxation techniques, controlled breathing, offers pain control options. Included are an introduction to inductions and Cesareans, a discussion of infant care and a hospital tour of labor, delivery, postpartum and nursery. Comfortable clothing is recommended for participants. Call for more information and fee schedule.

SIH Prepared Childbirth Course

When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: SIH Physician referral and Event registration Center, 866-744-2468 Mothers and fathers will prepare both mentally and physically for participation, sharing and individual satisfaction in pregnancy, labor, birth and introduction to parenthood. reservations required.

Western Baptist Hospital Breastfeeding Classes

When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept 28 Where: Western Baptist Hospital, Paducah, Doctor’s office Bldg 2, atrium Classroom Registration: 270-575-2229 Class helps expectant mothers prepare for the breastfeeding experience. Free.

Western Baptist Hospital Diabetes Class

When: 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 Where: Western Baptist Hospital, Paducah Registration: 270-575-2918 all classes are led by Kathy West, certified diabetes educator, and follow the american Diabetes association (aDa) guidelines. Free. registration is suggested.

St. Elizabeth’s Saturday Childbirth Class

When: 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 and 25 Where: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville Registration: 618-234-2120 ext. 2300 Classes teach relaxation techniques, controlled breathing, offer pain control options as well as an introduction to inductions and Caesareans. The class includes a discussion

of infant care and a hospital tour of labor and delivery, postpartum and nursery. Comfortable clothing is recommended for participants. Call for more information and fee schedule.

Western Baptist Prepared Childbirth Class

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 or Monday, Sept. 20 Where: Western Baptist Hospital, Paducah, Doctor’s office Bldg 2, Meeting room a-B Registration: 270-575-2229 Class designed for expectant parents in second or third trimester.

SIH Boot Camp for New Dads

When: 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: SIH Physician referral and Event registration Center, 866-744-2468 First-time dads learn the ins and outs of caring for babies from expert fathers. Facilitated by Sean Herron and adam Benns, SIH employees, and Dan Dietz, the class helps men make the transition to fathering through activities and discussion. Veteran dads, who have three to 12 months experience bring their babies to class and share their experience with the expectant fathers. There are activities that allow the fathers-to-be to get some hands-on experience handling a baby.

Western Baptist Cesarean Birth Class

When: 5-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20 Where: Western Baptist Hospital, Paducah, Doctor’s office Bldg 2, Conference room a Registration: 270-575-2229 Helps prepare mothers for a Cesarean birth. Women wishing to take the Cesarean birth class will attend the second class of the Prepared Childbirth series.

St. Elizabeth’s Sibling Preparation Class

When: 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27 Where: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville, oB Classroom, 4th Floor Registration: 618-234-2120 ext. 2300 Designed for children 3 to 10 years of age who are anticipating the arrival of a sibling, the class offers and opportunity to develop positive feelings about a new sibling and become comfortable with the hospital setting. Parents are expected to attend class with their children. $5 fee.

Western Baptist Sibling Class

When: 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 Where: Western Baptist Hospital, Paducah, Doctor’s office Bldg 2, atrium Classroom Registration: 270-575-2229 This class helps prepare children ages 2 to 9 for the arrival of a new brother or sister.

Prepared Childbirth Course

When: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, oct. 16 Where: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Registration: 866-744-2468 Mothers and fathers learn skills for childbirth and caring for an infant in this series of classes. It will prepare expectant parents both mentally and physically for participation, sharing and individual satisfaction in pregnancy, labor, birth and introduction to parenthood. The four-session classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. Call to reserve space.


Ah ... What was that? Age to Perfection

It has long been known that the older we are, the more difficult it is to learn new things. Remember what they say, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t teach an old dog new tricks. Is this actually fact or fiction? Well, as some people may agree with this old addage, it is surely not backed by any concrete research. But, the real BY Dr. nEIL SHarMa problem is instead of learning new tricks, we start to forget the old ones. As we age, the more and more we forget. As you all may have gathered, this month I am writing about dementia. It is characterized by memory loss, difficulty in understanding or using words, inability to carry out motor activities despite having the physical ability to do them, and failure to identify or recognize objects. Individuals with dementia can have symptoms ranging from one to all of them and can also range from mild dementia to severe dementia. It is estimated that 6 to 10 percent of individuals 65 years or older suffer from dementia. As we grow older, our risk of getting dementia increases and the number is on the rise as members of the baby boomer generation grow older. There are multiple types of dementia that should be evaluated by your physician, and thankfully some types are reversible. Some of these types are due to medications, vitamin deficiencies, depression and thyroid abnormalities. It is helpful to recognize key symptoms of dementia. Symptoms like

increasing forgetfulness should prompt evaluation by your physician. Additionally, decreased motor and cognitive function, for example, inability to groom or dress oneself and cook and clean for his or herself. Many times people often forget stories and events, or find themselves unable to think through complicated tasks. It is important that if you or one of your loved ones experience any of these symptoms then you or your loved one should be evaluated by a physician or a geriatric specialist. If you have questions or concerns about dementia, they will be able to evaluate reversible causes. A critical component to treatment is to have the right social support and caregivers who play a major role in the quality of life of patients with dementia. Some medications have been approved by the FDA to slow progression of the disease and should be discussed with your doctor to decide which one might be best for you. Current medications that you are on should also be reviewed thoroughly for possible reversible causes of dementia. Although controversial, vitamins E and C have been reported to improve symptoms of dementia. With our maturing population, an increasing number of people in the U.S. are at risk for developing dementia. It is important to be evaluated when symptoms first start as this will allow for an increased quality of life and slower progression of the disease. Reversible causes should be screened for and appropriate treatment started as soon as possible by your doctor. So donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget, it is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks. All you need is to be aware of yourself and your loved ones, and be willing to seek help when symptoms of dementia are present. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; DR. NEIL SHARMA is chief resident at the Carbondale Family Medicine Residency Program in the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

6HQLRUV2U2OGHU If you need help to maintain your independence, You may qualify for the Illinois Supportive Living Program. The Program enables you to... â&#x20AC;˘ Live in your own private apartment. â&#x20AC;˘ Receive the personal assistance you need. â&#x20AC;˘ Benefit from the availability of three meals a day, housekeeping, and laundry service. â&#x20AC;˘ Enjoy the companionship of friends and neighbors and the opportunity to participate in social, recreational and educational activities. Seniors on Medicaid or who only receive Minimum Social Security Payments can qualify. For further information, call our Supportive Living Community

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I’m Sick Is your house making you ill, too? BY JoDI HaWKInS

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ave you ever been accused of being a “clean freak?” As someone who has, I’ll admit that I’ve probably spent more time tidying up things at home than relaxing in it. What can I say? If I’m going to work for years at paying off a mortgage, it won’t be on a house that’s not worth more than a frequent dose of elbow grease. But surprisingly, even homes that would pass the toughest of white glove tests may actually not be fit to live in. Sometimes cleaning is meant for more than what the eye can see. It’s also about clearing the air of any hidden health hazards that may have become unwanted guests. Things like radon gas, mold and bacteria are often overlooked by occupants as a source for unexplained illnesses.

Get rid of radon

Radon is described as a radioactive gas derived from uranium that normally exists in the soil or rock underneath homes. It can enter through floor drains or cracks in concrete walls. Because of its colorless and odorless properties, many people are exposed to radon daily without even knowing it and it’s costing some of them their health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 22,000 Americans die annually from radon-induced lung cancer, making it the leading cause of the disease among non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in America. Our state accounts for 1,160 of those as reported by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Yet there is still an alarmingly high number of people unaware of the need to have their homes tested for it. That was the case for Gloria Linnertz of Waterloo. After her husband, Joe, passed away from lung cancer in February 2006, she began to hear more about radon and decided to have her home tested twice. The first test indicated a high level of radon (11.2). “A second test showed 17.6, so we were living with over four times the EPA action level of four in our home,” said Linnertz.

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“I immediately had a radon mitigation system installed and the level went down to 1.1.” Linnertz was devastated by the probability that her husband’s cancer was related to radon because he lived a very healthy lifestyle. He had stopped smoking nearly three decades earlier and made every effort to take care of himself. “We walked every day and ate a low-fat, lowcholesterol diet,” she said. Linnertz has since invested much of her time to educating others about radon. Today she serves as an activist and vice president of the Cancer Survivors against Radon. “I devote my life to telling people that living with high levels of radon is so very dangerous, but easy to fix,” she said. Calvin Murphy, president of the Allied Radon Services in Mount Vernon, explains how fixing an elevated radon level within a home is done by preventing the gas from finding an entrance. “In the case of a house with a basement, an air-tight cover would be installed on the sump pump (if one exists), the wall-floor joints and cracks would be sealed with caulk, and a piping system with an in-line fan would be installed,” said Murphy. “The piping system would extend from under the slab to above the roofline. The inline fan creates vacuum under the slab, removing the radon and discharging it above the roofline where it dissipates into the atmosphere,” he continues. For a home with a crawl space, Murphy says that an airtight plastic barrier is installed over it and the piping system extends under the plastic to the atmosphere. Do-it-yourself radon testing kits are available in most hardware and home improvement stores. Murphy notes that they can also be purchased online at www.silradon.org or tests may be conducted by companies licensed through the IEMA. “It’s recommended that houses be tested every two years or after making renovations or additions to the house,” Murphy says.

Mold and bacteria

Mold grows as a result of too much moisture. Unlike radon, mold can be seen, but isn’t so easy to spot. The Illinois Department of Public Health says mold can grow in almost anything including paper, carpet, wood, dry wall, insulation, mattresses and shower curtains. It also grows in air conditioners, humidifiers and dehumidifiers that are improperly maintained. When mold goes undetected within a home, it often takes a physical toll on those who are exposed to it. However, many people suffering from mold-related health problems don’t make the connection. “Mold can cause itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose, and headaches,” says Dr. Ronald Mings, allergist at the Southern Illinois Allergy & Asthma Center in Carbondale. “It can cause recurrent sinus infections or asthma problems, such as a dry, persistent coughing or wheezing. We see people who have an allergic type of eczema called atopic dermatitis. There can be shortness of breath, or sometimes people say they even have tightness in their chests.” Dr. Raymund Pineda, pulmonologist at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, says a few other possible health problems are associated

with mold and bacteria, specifically in our area. “Most of the time, the symptoms here are mainly related to upper and lower respiratory tract infections, sinus congestion, recurring sore throat or pharyngitis and chronic cough,” Pineda said. While mold isn’t known to cause lung cancer, it can be just as fatal if inhaled by the wrong person. “For transplant patients or those who are taking medications to suppress the immune system, inhaling mold could be dangerous, if not deadly, because it can grow out of control inside their lungs,” Pineda said. So how can you keep mold and bacteria away from your home and health? It’s all about controlling the moisture. “Adequate ventilation is probably the best way to minimize the effects of these things,” Pineda said. “In this area, basically everyone with a basement should be running a dehumidifier because mold thrives with increased humidity, and we have a lot of that here,” Mings said. “The other thing is to not have furniture or storage right up against walls so that there can be good air circulation behind the furniture.” Mings also said drip pans underneath refrigerators are a big source of mold as well as bathrooms. “Be careful about repairing leaks in there because then you can have mold underneath the linoleum or whatever type of floor you have,” he said. Those who use humidifiers are cautioned keep them clean and not leave water in them while turned off because that’s another breeding ground for air pollutants. “When you leave water in the humidifier stagnant for a long time and then you use it, you’re basically aerosolizing bacteria and mold, which can give you a really bad infection,” Pineda said.

Keep sources of pollution out of your home Declare your home a smoke-free zone. Never let anyone smoke indoors. Test your home for radon, an invisible gas that causes lung cancer. Every home should be tested because radon may be found in any home. If your home has high radon, it can be fixed. Keep humidity levels under 50 percent. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner, as needed. Clean equipment regularly so they don’t become a source of pollution themselves. Fix all leaks and drips in the home. Standing water and high humidity encourage the growth of mold and other pollutants. Put away food, cover trash and use baits to control pests, like cockroaches. Avoid burning wood because it adds pollution indoors and out. Don’t use outdoor wood boilers, also called hydronic heaters, to heat your home’s water. They add unhealthy soot to the air in your neighborhood. Don’t use scented candles or fragrances to hide odors. Figure out what is causing the odor, then clean that up and ventilate to add fresh air. Use cleaning, household and hobby products that are less toxic. Don’t store hazardous chemicals in your home.

Ventilate to clean dirty air indoors l Use exhaust fans in bathrooms to remove moisture and gases from the house. l Fit your kitchen with an exhaust fan that moves the air to the outside. Use the fan or open a window when cooking to remove fumes and airborne particles. l Make sure gas appliances vent completely to the outside. Do not use ventless stoves. l Have gas or oil stoves, dryers or water heaters inspected by a qualified technician once a year. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your bedrooms. l If you paint or use hobby supplies or chemicals in your home, add extra ventilation. Open the windows and use a portable window fan to pull the air out of the room. l Never idle your car in an attached garage.

Solving the mystery

It’s not always easy to figure out if some of these unobvious elements are the culprit of health troubles. But, believe it or not, a simple getaway could be a great (and fun) start to finding a solution. “People almost have to be away from their home for a while,” Mings said. “Sometimes people say that after just a few days away they notice they’re feeling better or they’re worse after they’ve been home over the weekend, so that’s kind of a clue that there may be something in the home that’s bothering them.” Many physicians will evaluate patients to see what they may be exposed to. Often they can reveal some possible causes by asking questions about the patient’s house, such as if it has a crawl space, damp basement or any recent leaks. The IDPH says that medical tests can be performed on skin or blood to determine allergies to some substances, such as mold. However, they note that skin tests are generally more reliable, less expensive and yield faster results than blood tests. “If there’s any peculiarity in your body (such as loss of weight, hoarseness, spiting up blood) have yourself checked right away,” Linnertz said. “Don’t wait!”

— Source: American Lung Association

Help yourself

There are some indoor air hazards that require the thorough cleaning of a professional. On the other hand, sometimes you can take steps to help your whole family breathe easier at home. Webmd.com offers several ideas for clearing the air and keeping it that way. For example, the website recommends using blinds instead of drapes because they collect less dust, keep air filters in some rooms, particularly bedrooms, and wash bedding in hot water to kill dust mites. If remodeling is in your home’s future, consider replacing carpet with hardwood or tile floors. “Dust mites are really common in a house that has carpeting, especially if it’s an old carpet,” said Pineda.

Before cleaning up mold, consider some advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warns never to mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners, as it will produce toxic fumes. Open windows to provide fresh air and wear nonporous gloves and protective eye wear. Remember to have chimneys and furnaces inspected annually and keep all firewood stored outside. Homes with gas-burning appliances such as stoves, water heaters and furnaces should be especially careful about carbon monoxide emissions. In fact, IDPH reports that every Illinois home is required to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping. Check out www.idph.state.il.us for details about the few exceptions to this law.

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Good drug, BY Joanna Gray

bad drug

You’ve seen the TV commercials about the latest “breakthrough” drugs for depression, high cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis, weight loss, erectile dysfunction and more. The TV “patients” are smiling again, playing in the park with their grandchildren and pets, romancing their partners and pushing hope for relief from painful, even life-threatening conditions. But suddenly in the background you hear that low, fast-talking voice rattling off a seemingly endless list of possible scary side effects. Nausea. Blurred vision. Dizziness. Increased risk of seizure or stroke. Muscle weakness. Headaches. Skin rashes or hives. Fainting. After the TV screen fades to black, the hope fades, too, for many people who may choose to continue to live with their painful conditions because they fear the side effects. The good news is that knowledge is power when it comes to medications and their side effects. Also, the chances are good that you won’t experience the scariest, most serious reactions. “It is now mandatory for drug manufacturers to disclose all of the side effects reported in drug trials,” said Amber Krotz, pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Carbondale. “Many of the serious side effects that are listed only happen in a very small percent of the population. The best thing to do is ask your pharmacist about the common side effects that are most often experienced while taking a drug.” Medications seem to have split personalities. They have their good, healing side, as well as a bad side — the unwanted side effects — that can make a person feel worse instead of better. Some examples of mild, common side effects include headache, dizziness, dry mouth, itching, nausea, muscle aches and fatigue. “Many side effects will go away when the body gets use to taking that particular medication,” Krotz said. “But if a side effect is bothersome, the best thing to do is to call the doctor and discuss changing to another medication. Or get a recommendation from the pharmacist.” Severe side effects such abdominal pain, blurred vision or swelling of the hands or feet require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away. “Some side effects can be so adverse that we see people admitted to the hospital, but not to a large degree,” said John Chaney, pharmacy manager at Herrin Hospital. “Not to scare anybody, but people need to be aware that adverse effects are possible. Physicians and pharmacists have resources to determine if a serious side effect may occur, and we work together to help patients avoid them.” As pharmacists, Chaney and Krotz provide information and guidance to patients on how to take their medications — on an empty stomach or full stomach, for example, or at a certain time of day — for the greatest effectiveness and less risk of side effects. “Make sure to take the medication exactly as the doctor prescribed,” Krotz said. “Also, always carry a list of all of your medications so the pharmacist can check for drug interactions.” Whether mild or severe, side effects are often a sign the

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medication is not working properly or might be interacting adversely with another prescription or over-the-counter drug or supplement. That’s why it’s important to know everything you can about the medications you take. “I think that patients, as consumers of health care, really need to be educated about the medications they take,” Chaney said. “They should also be aware of any possible side effects, adverse effects and possible drug interactions because those factors can influence their recovery.” People should also consider the non-prescription, over-thecounter drugs and supplements they take, because these might also either trigger side effects of a prescription drug or cause the medicine to not work properly. As a result, the patient doesn’t get the expected relief. “For example, an over-the-counter calcium supplement taken in combination with a prescription antibiotic may prevent the antibiotic from working,” Chaney said. “It doesn’t cause a harmful side effect, but if the antibiotic isn’t working, it isn’t treating the infection or whatever it was prescribed for. That’s why it’s important to tell the doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any over-the-counter drugs or supplements.” Asking questions is another way to help deal with medication side effects. Whenever you start a new medication or a new dosage of an existing one, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any particularly dangerous side effects you should watch for. Additional questions to ask include: l How soon will the side effects appear after taking the drug? l How long will the side effects last? l Is there anything I can do to prevent side effects? l What should I do if I experience any side effects? l If I can’t handle the side effects of this drug, is there another one I can try? You can also find information about the medication, its purpose, and its specific side effects and warnings on a printed paper insert in the bag with your prescription. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor or pharmacist if you are confused or concerned about anything you read. You can also search online for medication information at reputable sites such as www.mayoclinic.com and Drugs A to Z (http://durgsaz. about.com/. “We’ve become an Internet savvy society, and many times patients

Know the facts about medication side effects will tell their physician what medication they can or cannot take based on what they’re already taking,” Chaney said. “It’s good that patients are becoming much more educated, because they have to look out for themselves to some degree. The patient is a responsible party in this just like the physician and the pharmacist.” Physicians prescribe medications because they believe that the benefits will outweigh the side effects in treating their patients’ conditions. Perhaps the best advice is not to let the TV commercials substitute for face-to-face conversations with your physician and pharmacist. “A person has to decide whether the side effects that they may encounter are worth the risk of not taking any medication and having complications from the disease they would be treating,” Krotz said. “For example, is the chance of having an upset stomach or diarrhea from taking a diabetic medicine worth it compared to blindness, which can be caused by uncontrolled diabetes?”


pet health

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Certain exercises beneďŹ t arthritic dogs Certain types of exercise may help ease stiffness and pain in dogs with arthritis, a new study suggests. Using a special treadmill and a computer program, Austrian researchers examined the movements of joints in the front and back legs of dogs as they did three types of exercises: walking uphill, walking downhill and walking over low obstacles. They concluded that walking downhill doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t appear to provide much benefit but walking uphill and climbing over low obstacles could both help dogs with arthritis. Walking uphill may improve the flexibility of affected joints, particularly of the hip, while walking over low obstacles may improve the bending of the joints in the front and rear limbs, said the team at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Researchers caution that dogs who have recently undergone surgery to the tibia, however, should probably avoid walking over obstacles since that could potentially strain the tendon that joins the knee to the shin. They added that the exercises donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t require expensive equipment, are simple and can easily be supervised by dog owners. The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.

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Ingestion of over-the-counter and prescription drugs formulated for humans are by far the most common cause of pet poisonings in this country, veterinarians say. Since the ASPCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana began keeping statistics in 2002, human medications have consistently topped its annual list of the most toxic substances pets ingest. Of the 98,000 calls received so far this year, about one-third involve dogs and cats consuming human medications, says Camille DeClementi, a veterinary toxicologist with APCC. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin, are among the top offenders, the APCC finds. Other drugs commonly eaten by dogs and some felines include antidepressants (Prozac), acetaminophen (Tylenol), anti-anxiety drugs (Xanax), sleep aids (Ambien) and beta-blocker blood pressure medications (Tenormin or Toprol.) Pets knock vials off countertops and nightstands, or owners mistakenly think theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re helping their pets by giving them human medication to alleviate some sort of ailment. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a big no-no. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dogsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and catsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; metabolisms are different from ours, so they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always process the same drugs we can,â&#x20AC;? explains Silene Young, a former emergency room veterinarian who works for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) in Brea, Calif. Just one extra-strength Tylenol, for example, can kill a cat. And the anti-cancer topical treatment, Fluorouracil, can be fatal in dogs, even in the tiniest doses ingested, say, from chewing on the discarded cotton swabs used to apply the cream, according to veterinary toxicologists. Medication mix-ups cause unintentional poisonings too. By grabbing the wrong bottle, some owners inadvertently give their pet medication thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really meant for them or other humans. Keeping animal and human medications in separate drawers or cabinets is the simplest way to prevent those types of mishaps from occurring. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a good idea, veterinarians say, for owners to take their medication in the bathroom with the door shut. That way, if a pill drops on the floor, they have time to retrieve it before the dog does.

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his health Men may be catching up to women in lifespan

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The life-expectancy gap between men and women has shrunk to 5.2 years, the narrowest since 1946. But men still need to pay more attention to their health. Why? Compared to women, men are more likely to: l Smoke and drink more and generally lead less healthy lifestyles l Put off routine checkups and even ignore symptoms of a health problem l Join in fearless, risky and dangerous behaviors Working-aged men also are less likely than women to have a regular doctor. The good news is that many of the diseases and health conditions that men face can be prevented or treated if they are found early. To start taking better care of your health, learn about your risk factors. Risk factors are things in your life that

increase your chances of getting a certain disease. Some risk factors you cannot change, such as your age or family history. But many are in your control. Find out what you can do to lower your risk factors and improve your overall health. Next, find out how often you should see a doctor for routine checkups and what screenings, tests, and vaccines you might need. By taking these steps, you will feel good knowing you are doing all you can to take charge of your health. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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kidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; health

her health

Keep baby safe when using formula Baby formula is designed for infants a year old or younger who arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t breast-fed. The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers these suggestions for safe preparation and use of baby formula: l Wash bottles and nipples with soap, and sterilize them by boiling for 10 minutes. l Follow instructions carefully for mixing formula. Adding the wrong amount of water can lead to serious

What to do if you child sucks his thumb Usually, your child will give up sucking on a thumb with time. But if the practice seems to go on too long, you can take steps to encourage your child to stop thumbsucking. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions: l Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tease, punish or speak harshly to your child for sucking the thumb.

History of poor mental health boosts pregnancy risks

health problems for baby. A woman with a history of poor mental l Store unmixed formula health is eight times more likely to have the in a cool and dry area with a problem occur during pregnancy, a recent plastic lid on top of the can. study shows. l Store mixed formula in Dr. Whitney Witt and colleagues the refrigerator for up to 24 examined data on hours. 3,051 pregnant l Carefully warm up a bottle by setting it in hot water. Never boil or microwave it. l Throw away any Women play an important role in the health formula that baby care of men through education and awareness? doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t eat. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Men often learn about health from wives, save it for later.

women and found that those who had previous mental health problems such as anxiety and depression had the highest risk of experiencing poor mental health while they were expecting. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This study shows that the motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous mental health really matters,â&#x20AC;? says Witt, assistant professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Other factors that increased the womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s risk included having poor physical health during pregnancy and being unmarried, which can indicate a lack of social support. More attention should be paid to mental health screening for all women of reproductive age regardless of their pregnancy status, says Witt, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but especially for women before they become pregnant since it is such an important risk factor.â&#x20AC;? Continuity of care is vital, she adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mental health should be monitored and treated appropriately over the lifecourse,â&#x20AC;? she says.

Did you know?

girlfriends, and/or mothers. Women tend to get health information from doctors, the television, the Internet, and printed materials. l When your child isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sucking Although men need to take charge the thumb, offer words of praise. of their own health, you can help the men l Find ways to entertain and in your life get started by raising distract your child if thumb sucking is a way to battle boredom. awareness about l Speak with your childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pediatrician menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s health. or dentist about using a device in the mouth to make thumb sucking uncomfortable.

For many kids, homework is a big stress As the school year progresses, parents should know that for some kids, even the most basic homework assignments can be a crippling source of stress and anxiety. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what Dr. Marcia Slattery, a child psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin, has found. Each year, she and her colleagues treat and counsel hundreds of children who are anxious about school-related issues, including homework. Homework stress can affect any child, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s especially difficult for children who suffer from an anxiety disorder, the most common psychiatric problem that afflicts children, says Slattery. And homework issues can indicate problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an undiagnosed learning disorder. Slattery suggests parents follow a few guidelines: l Begin with consistency â&#x20AC;&#x201D; find a specific time each day to sit down and study. l Designate a specific place for study â&#x20AC;&#x201D; comfortable, but not too comfortable. l Get involved â&#x20AC;&#x201D; parents should show an interest in their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homework. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Parents can also be important models by engaging in things like reading or writing during their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homework time,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It sends a message that â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;homework timeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just for kids.â&#x20AC;?

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