Friday, November 21, 2014

Does My Cut Need Stitches?

When people get a cut they ask, "Does my cut need stitches?"  Many times a simple bandage will work just as well.    Stitches are used to control bleeding, to reduce the chance of infection, and  generally to leave a smaller scar.  There are types of cuts when stitches are essential.

The wound on a scraped knee is an abrasion, usually superficial, and will heal with a simple bandage.  Lacerations are what most people think of as a cut, with avulsions a chunk of skin is torn away, and punctures occur from a nail or sharp object piercing the skin.  Because dog bites have a very high risk of infection if closed, antibiotics are usually given and the bite is bandaged, but not stitched.  For a puncture wound, because bacteria is associated with the soles of rubber shoes, an antibiotic is given.  Stitches depend on the depth of the wound.

Being able to see bone, tendon, muscle or fatty tissue from a laceration is cause for concern as is a cut wider than about 3/4 of an inch. Excessive bleeding that will not stop, loss of sensation, and risk of a foreign object stuck inside the cut signal need for medical attention.  Stitching wounds applies pressure that stops the bleeding, brings the tissue back together, and helps prevent infection.  Booster tetanus shots are administered if there is no memory of a tetanus shot within the past 5 to 10 years.

The development of tissue adhesives has allowed fewer stitches to be given, but work only on parts of the body that do not move a lot.  A knee might benefit from stitches rather than the adhesive.  If a person washes a wound and the cut appears to be healing well, in most cases it is.  If there are concerns, a visit to the emergency room is in order.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Interrupted Sleep for Moms

Interrupted Sleep for Moms

Sleep is as important to health and life as are food and water.  Interrupted sleep over long periods of time can have serious health consequences.  Sleep is frequently interrupted, sometimes for both parents, but particularly for moms of newborn infants who are nursing.  Young babies have to be fed every few hours through the night.  Older babies and those weighing 14 pounds and more can go longer.  They sleep longer, but may awaken to feed out of habit, not out of hunger.

By the time a baby is nine to twelve months old, it should be sleeping through the night.  Waking frequently to feed can become a habit, which can interrupt the sleep of the mother.  Interrupted sleep can eventually adversely affect her energy levels, health, and ability to take care of the baby and her family.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Insomnia is described as inadequate or poor quality sleep caused by difficulty falling asleep; difficulty staying asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep.  This can result in daytime impairment that may include irritability, depression or anxiety, memory problems, flawed judgment, poor attention or focus, increased errors, increased accidents, and many different physical symptoms.  Multiple factors contribute to all the various types of insomnia.

To help combat insomnia, consider the following factors.
  • A totally dark bedroom room may be very important.
  • Bedroom temperature is a factor in making sleep easier.
  • A comfortable mattress is essential and may need periodic replacing.
  • Noise levels within the house and noise of neighbors can affect sleep.
  • Breathing well is essential to sleeping well.
  • Eating in bed or operating a business out of the bedroom may inhibit sleep.
  • Tossing and turning may increase wakefulness.
  • Eating too much and too close to bedtime can inhibit sleep.
  • Too many naps and afternoon sleeping may affect ability to go to sleep at night.
  • Exercise in the evening can energize and prevent sleep.
  • Obsessing about problems after going to bed can prevent sleep.

If after trying the above measures that may apply, and insomnia continues, consider a sleep study.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fractured Sleep or Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is a restorative activity, and if sleep time is cut short or fractured (interrupted) the body does not have time to complete repairs or restore energy.  Hormones are not released in the proper amounts.

Epidemiological studies have shown that people who sleep less than 6 hours may show the following:
  • Increased risk of developing hypertension, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
  • Acceleration of memory loss
  • Reduction of immune system function
  • Increase of osteoporosis (animal model), cardiac disease, and mortality
  • Increased risk for colon cancer and likelihood of precancerous polyps

Regular sleep affects daily functioning and physical, mental, and emotional health.  It is essential for our survival.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Time Out

Many parents use "time out" as a disciplinary measure, but most of them do not use it correctly.  They expect the time outs to teach children something, but many times they do not.  The main reason for time outs is aggression, which peaks between 1 and 3 years of age.

Time outs work best if a child has been first shown how to do a time out.  Sending them to their room where there is a TV or where they can amuse themselves is not true time out.  A quick response of what they did wrong, in six words or less is effective, such as "No hitting.  Hitting hurts people."  If they are put in a place for time out, it needs to be where they can see the parent.  The object is to teach them, not frighten them.

Some children break time out by asking if it is over yet.  Frequently breaking out of time out and restarting it can be a bid by the child for extra attention.  If they come out of time out before it is over, the parent may need to restrain the child by holding them.  Most children do not like being restrained in time out.  You can give them the chance to start the time out over and only have to be restrained if they prematurely come out of it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The "Common" Cold

A cold is a viral infection, and symptoms include coughing, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, fatigue, headache, and fever.  These symptoms usually resolve in 7 to 10 days, but can last as long as six weeks.  There are over 200 strains of viruses that can cause a cold, most of them rhinoviruses.  Unfortunately, scientists continue to discover new viruses that can cause a cold.

Colds are most contagious about two days before symptoms start and in the early stages of a cold.  Transmission is usually by airborne droplets, direct contact with infected nasal secretions, or contact with contaminated objects.  Adults usually get two to five colds a year, whereas children can get as many as seven to ten colds.  These colds usually occur between September and May.

There is no cure for the common cold, but symptomatic treatment may help reduce symptom severity.  Hand washing and wearing a mask are considered good prevention measures.  Stress reduction, exercise, and adequate sleep can also help prevent getting a cold.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Problems with Make-up

Problems with Make-up

Among the many problems with make-up are separation of liquid foundation with time, drying up of mascara, allergic reactions to make-up, and potential for bacterial contamination.

Bacterial contamination depends on both how the make-up is used and stored.  The humid bathroom is a site for many airborne bacteria and contamination potential is always on the fingers. Never put fingers into a jar of any kind of skin cream or make-up.  Pumps or squeezable tubes that minimize finger contact are preferable.  Wash applicators and brushes once a month.  Sponges of any kind, including loofahs, are a potential bacterial and fungal hazard.  If using a sponge, buy an inexpensive one and discard it weekly.

Replace mascara and liquid eyeliner every three months.  Liquid foundation and pressed-powder eye shadow or blush can be used for a year if the applicator tools, including brushes, are cleaned monthly.  Regularly, and particularly after an illness, dampen a tissue with alcohol and clean lipstick surfaces.  Eyebrow and eyeliner pencils can also be cleaned in this way and then sharpened.

Cosmetics, even hypoallergenic formulations, can be allergenic to sensitive women.  Puffy eyes, swollen face, peeling lips, itchy eyes, and itching and burning skin are all signs of an allergic reaction to make-up.

No one of any age should ever share make-up as infections can be spread in this way.  Teenagers are particularly tempted to share, and pink eye can be the result. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


People usually eat five food groups: protein, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Foods contain hundreds of natural chemicals including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, protein, phenolics, terpenes, sugars, fatty acids, steroids, alkaloids, and many other compounds.  While most foods benefit the body, some can trigger adverse symptoms known as an allergic reaction.  It can be anaphylaxis or food sensitivity/intolerance. People can be allergic/sensitive to the food as well as to any/many of the compounds it contains, even vitamins and minerals  This explains why people can react to a food they have never eaten, as many of these compounds repeat from food to food.

Food allergy among children is increasing.  A recent CDC survey estimated that 1 in 20 US children have food allergies, which is a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s.  The explanation for this is unknown and controversial.  Consumption of processed food as well as the frequency with which any food is eaten may be playing a roll.  Food allergies/sensitivities affect people causing a variety of symptoms in any body system.