Newsclips Featured

9:51am EDT July 22, 2002
Caffeine in my blood

Caffeine is absorbed very quickly from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed in various body tissues. After absorption, it passes into the central nervous system. Caffeine sensitivity refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce negative side effects and varies from person to person. Caffeine does not accumulate in the bloodstream nor is it stored in the body. It is excreted in the urine many hours after it has been consumed. Caffeine will not reduce the effects of alcohol, although many people still believe a cup of coffee will “sober up” an intoxicated person.

Caffeine may be used as a treatment for migraine headaches and in relieving, for a short time, fatigue or drowsiness. There is no human requirement for caffeine in the diet. Moderate caffeine intake, however, is not associated with any health risk. Three 8-ounce cups of coffee (250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine. Ten 8-ounce cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine.


I’ve got a headache

It’s one of our most common medical conditions — a headache. Many people don’t know what causes their headaches, but certain triggers, such as too much caffeine, too little sleep, stress, anger and even changes in the weather, can start a headache or make it worse.

So what helps a headache? Try applying heat or cold to the area, massaging the neck to relax the muscles, or simply taking a walk or a nap. Another way to help is to keep a headache diary to determine if food, weather or mood contribute to your headache pattern. Talk to your doctor if you have frequent or persistent headaches.

Source: Tylenol

Out in the cold

An experimental drug currently under development may one day be used to treat the common cold. In a clinical trial of the drug, called pleconaril, colds cleared up in an average of 11 days, versus 14 days for patients treated with a placebo.

Wrist shots

Although carpal tunnel syndrome is common among adults, physicians still lack standard criteria for diagnosing the wrist injury, according to a recent report.

Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Swedish researchers noted that some studies have uncovered a high prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in certain occupations.

Jobs that require repetitive wrist or finger motions, such as construction and carpentry work and jobs that involve computer keyboard use, have been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Joint advocates

Thanks to advances in medical research, we now have a better understanding about the cause of common arthritis, the joint disease that affects more than 20 million Americans.

The old theory was that inflammation caused the pain, swelling, creaking and stiffness of joints. However, doctors and researchers now tell us that arthritis results from the gradual wearing down of cartilage, the shock absorbing tissue in the joints.

Source: Tylenol

Inhaling the cure

Two separate studies, one carried out on students at two major Midwestern universities and the other on patients at high risk of infection at a Toronto hospital, provide strong evidence that flu can be prevented by the antiviral drug Zanamivir. Zanamivir is the first of a new series of antiviral medications called neuraminidase inhibitors that interfere with the production of an enzyme essential for the replication of flu viruses. Without that enzyme, viruses clump harmlessly to the surface of a healthy cell instead of infecting it. The drug is a dry powder that is breathed in using an inhaler. Unlike other medications, which are only effective against type A influenzas, zanamivir works against both type A and type B flu viruses.

That’s a stretch

Should I stretch before or after I do aerobic exercise?

First of all, stretching “cold” muscles is potentially harmful and less effective than stretching when the muscles are properly warmed up. Theoretically, you should perform some sort of aerobic activity lightly for five minutes to warm up, then stretch, then resume your aerobic activity, and stretch again at the end, according to The problem is that most people don’t.

Regular stretching is probably the most neglected area of fitness. To get people to stretch, perform all your stretches at the end of the exercise session. It is more likely you will stretch once, rather than twice in the same workout. Aerobic exercise, such as walking and jogging, slightly stresses the muscles and tendons, making them tighter. Therefore, it’s best to stretch after a workout to help relax the exercised muscles. Muscles that are warmed up can be stretched safely and effectively.

Poor grandma

Despite increased federal and state efforts over the last year to improve the quality of care in U.S. nursing homes, many facilities are still being cited for problems that significantly harm patients, according to a report issued by the US General Accounting Office. Under an expanded definition of “poorly performing” nursing homes due to go into effect later this year, the GAO reported that 2,275 nursing homes, or 15 percent of all such facilities in the U.S., would be placed in that category as a result of violations over the last 15 months. Currently, just 1 percent of homes, or 137 facilities, fall into the “poorly performing” category.

I’m going to be sick

Do you know why some over-the-counter pain relievers may irritate your stomach, while others won’t?

There are two kinds of over-the-counter pain relievers. One type is called NSAIDS-nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some common NSAIDs include aspirin (Excedrin, Bayer), naproxen sodium (Aleve), even ibuprofen (Advil).

Every single NSAID, to varying degrees, can sometimes irritate your stomach by interfering with the production of the substance that lines and protects the stomach. Surprisingly, this irritation can occur at the stomach lining without you even feeling it.

Bathroom alchemy

If you’re like most people, you probably take an assortment of prescription and nonprescription medications. Do you know that some of these drugs, when taken in certain combinations, could cause unwanted drug interactions?

Drug interactions may affect the safety or effectiveness of medications, and could result in high drug levels in the body and stronger than recommended effects.

The next time you start taking a new medicine or refill an old one, be proactive. Read the labels every time you use a prescription or nonprescription medication, and learn about potential drug interactions. It’s critical to your good health.

Hunger pangs

How do I make changes in my diet to eat more vegetables and less fat without feeling hungry all the time?

Don’t cut your fat intake below 25 fat grams a day. There is no real benefit, and you need essential fat in your diet. Fat delays stomach emptying, making meals last longer. Your lunch, (salad with nonfat dressing) even though there is fiber from a salad, is too low fat, so the meal moves through your stomach faster and leaves you hungry in the afternoon. Add a light salad dressing, not low fat, and some whole wheat bread or crackers. Spread your fat intake throughout the day — 5 grams at breakfast, 10 grams at lunch and dinner.

Women tend to do better with small meals and planned snacks. If you get hungry every afternoon, plan a light snack to carry you over until dinner. Have yogurt, a low-fat granola or fruit bar, pretzels, fruit, etc. Consider 3 p.m. another opportunity to add healthy food to your diet. You may need a heartier snack if dinner is late (7 p.m.), so consider half a sandwich and a beverage at 3 p.m.

Find ways to add hot fo ods to your diet. Studies show that hot food is more satisfying than cold food, no matter what the calorie content. Add warm vegetable or tomato soup to your lunch and see how you feel later.


Right-size it, Ronald

With the advent of “super-sizing,” most of us aren’t sure what a serving of food actually looks like — such as meat, pasta or dessert — let alone know how many servings of these foods we should eat in a day to maintain our weight. When we eat out, whether at a fast food or a sit-down restaurant, we typically are served hefty portions.

A serving of steak, chicken or fish at most restaurants is typically 6 to 12 ounces, which is actually two to four “real” servings. A plate of pasta at a restaurant is easily four real servings, and desserts, loaded with fat and calories, are also served in mega-portion sizes. It’s no wonder so many Americans struggle with excess weight; we are constantly being exposed to an overdose of food.

Here are serving sizes of common foods along, with a guide on the number of servings you should eat in a day:

Breads, rice, pasta, cereal and other grain products: At least six to 11 servings per day. One serving equals one slice of bread, half a bagel (some large deli bagels equal three to four servings), one-half cup of cooked pasta (about the size of a computer mouse), one ounce of ready-to-eat cereal, one-half cup of potatoes, or a six-inch tortilla.

Vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and spinach: At least three to five servings per day. One serving equals one-half cup cooked or one cup raw.

Fruit, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi and prunes: At least two to four servings per day. One serving equals one medium-sized fresh fruit (about the size of a tennis ball), or one-half cup of fruit juice (the real thing, not fruit “drink”).

Meat, including fish, chicken, pork or egg, and vegetable sources of protein such as soy (tofu) or beans (kidney, lentils, etc.): At least five to six ounces of meat or an equivalent of beans per day. One serving equals two to three ounces of meat (about the size of a deck of playing cards), one egg, four ounces of tofu, or one-half cup cooked beans.

Dairy or other calcium-rich foods, low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt or cheese, calcium-fortified soymilk: At least two to three servings per day. One serving equals one cup of milk, yogurt or soymilk, or two ounces of cheese (about two one-inch cubes).

Fat, such as oil (olive, canola, corn), avocado, margarine and butter: No more than 65 grams of fat per day. One serving equals one teaspoon or about five grams of fat (the size of a thumb tip), or one-eighth of an avocado. Use sparingly and be aware that fat lurks in many foods, so check the label.


Don’t let the bugs bite

Home treatment for insect stings:

  • Bees leave stingers behind. Do not pull the stinger out. Remove it by scraping gently with a fingernail or the side of a credit card.

  • Wash the area with soap and water.

  • Make a paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the sting as soon as possible. Many people find this reduces the reaction. If you do not have unseasoned meat tenderizer, try baking soda or activated charcoal.

  • Apply a cold pack to the sting.

  • Take pain medications as needed.

  • Topical creams and lotions, such as Calamine, benzocaine or hydrocortizone, may help ease the itching.

  • Some people take nonprescription antihistamines. If you take them, remember they can make you drowsy