Thursday, December 18, 2014
     

The Healthy Geezer

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Q. How extensive is alcoholism among older people?

Alcoholism is a serious problem among seniors. Here are just a few statistics:

About 70 percent of hospital admissions for older adults are for illness and accidents related to alcohol.

About half of older adults in nursing homes have an alcohol problem.

Older adults lose an average of 10 years off their lives because of alcohol abuse.

About 80 percent of doctors misdiagnose alcoholism as depression in older women.

The highest growing number of alcoholics is among 75-year-old widowers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Q. What causes motion sickness?

Many people including me suffer nausea when traveling by boat, car or airplane. It also happens on rides in amusement parks and playgrounds. The symptoms of motion sickness are caused by conflicting messages arriving at the central nervous system.

Different parts of your body let your brain know where you are and what you're doing. The inner ears let you know if you're turning, or moving forward-backward, side-to-side, and up-and-down.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Q. Whenever I drink a little too much wine, I find that I wake up at night and my heart seems to race for a while. Can wine do that?

The short answer is yes. But, first, it sounds like you haven't told a doctor about this. And you should immediately. What you're describing could be atrial fibrillation. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, particularly after age 60.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Q. Is it my imagination, but am I getting fewer fevers than I did when I was younger?

The immune system doesn't function as efficiently in older adults as it does in younger people.

The body's fever response to infection is not always automatic in elderly people. More than 20 percent of adults over age 65 who have serious bacterial infections do not have fevers.

This brings us to germs, which are defined as microbes that cause disease. Infectious diseases caused by microbes are the leading cause of death.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Q. What exactly is congestive heart failure?

If you have congestive heart failure your heart can't pump enough blood. This condition develops over time. It is the number one reason people over age 65 go into the hospital.

Heart failure is most common in older people, and is more common in African-Americans. Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women. But, because women usually live longer, the condition affects more women in their 70s and 80s.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Q. I heard that marijuana helps glaucoma. I'd like to try it, but won't I get in trouble?

Marijuana can help your glaucoma and it could get you in trouble because there are legal restrictions upon its use.

If you are interested in trying medical marijuana for your glaucoma, discuss this treatment with your doctor. (I could write an entire column on the marijuana laws, but I'll stick to the health issues.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Q. Does caffeine bother you more the older you get?

Sensitivity to caffeine the pick-me-up in coffee tends to increase as you get older. Children metabolize caffeine quicker than adults.

About 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine daily. More than half of all American adults consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine every day, making it America's most popular drug.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Q. Does fiber in your diet reduce cholesterol?

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is acted upon by the normal bacteria in your intestines. Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and promotes regularity and softens stools. Wheat bran, whole grain products and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Q. How dangerous is secondhand smoke? My son smokes in the house and it is annoying.

Secondhand smoke also called environmental tobacco smoke is made up of the "sidestream" smoke from the end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the "mainstream" smoke that is exhaled.

Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke absorb the same 4,000 chemical compounds that smokers do. More than 60 of these compounds are known or suspected to cause cancer.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Q. Are vitamins worth taking?

It's very important to talk with your doctor before you take any vitamin and mineral pills, especially if you take prescription medicines, have any health problems or are elderly. Taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can cause problems with some medical tests or interfere with drugs you're taking.

Vitamins and minerals are "micronutrients" your body needs in small but steady amounts. Your body can't make most micronutrients, so you must get them elsewhere.