Archive for November, 2011

How can I stay motivated to exercise regularly?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Every few months I start a new exercise program with the best of intentions. But before I know it, I'm back on my couch. How can I stay motivated?

DEAR READER: There are two ways to be motivated to exercise: to think about the good it will do for your future health, and to think of how good it will make you feel when you do it.

What is the difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I had my first baby about a month ago, and ever since I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed. I keep waiting for these feelings to go away, chalking them up to my adjustment to new parenthood, but they haven't yet. At what point should I seek treatment?

DEAR READER: Most mothers experience the "baby blues" during the first few days after giving birth. Symptoms include anxiety, irritability and weepiness. They typically worsen by the fourth or fifth day after delivery. Then they go away over the next two weeks. The cause is unknown. It may be simply exhaustion from labor and delivery.

How can I protect my child from poisonous household products?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter recently turned 2. Now that she is more mobile (and more curious), I'm increasingly worried about home safety. I have childproofed much of my home, but I still worry about poisoning from household chemicals. How can I keep her safe?

DEAR READER: You definitely want to childproof your home, as child poisonings are common in the United States. In fact, most unintentional poisonings involve children younger than age 6. Why? Because young kids have a lot more curiosity than knowledge.

What can I do about ringing in my ears?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My ears have been ringing for the past seven months or so. When I was younger, this would happen to me for short periods, usually after a loud concert. But this is the first time it's gone on for so long. What can I do about it?

DEAR READER: It sounds to me like you've got a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is sound you hear in your head with no external source. The good news is that you're not crazy. (Now if you told me that you kept hearing people talking to you, people who weren't there, I'd be more concerned!)

Is napping good for you?

DEAR DOCTOR. K: As I've gotten older I don't sleep as well as I used to. I'm retired, so I have the time to take an afternoon nap. But I'm worried that if I sleep during the day, I'll have even more trouble sleeping at night. What do you think?

DEAR READER: I'm not surprised that you don't sleep as well as you used to. Our sleep changes as we get older. After about age 60, we have less deep sleep. We awaken more often and sleep an average of two hours less at night than we did as young adults. It was once thought that older people didn't need as much sleep as younger ones. But that's not the case; we need it just as much. We just have a harder time getting it.

Is there a “right” way to toilet-train a toddler?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son is almost 3 ,and I think he's ready for toilet training. Is there a "right" way to toilet-train?

DEAR READER: Every toddler's readiness for toilet training is different. Some children might be ready at around 18 months; others not until 3 years of age or older. You'll need to match your specific approach to your child. But some general guidelines apply to most children.

What causes nosebleeds and how can you stop them?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I get frequent nosebleeds throughout the year. What should I do when I get one? Also, are nosebleeds dangerous?

DEAR READER: Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they are actually very common. They are rarely serious or life-threatening, and usually can be stopped with some local pressure and a little patience.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I keep hearing about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. But what IS a Mediterranean diet?

DEAR READER: The "Mediterranean diet" refers to the traditional diet of Greece, Italy and other countries near the Mediterranean Sea. There is a good deal of scientific evidence that the diet has health benefits. The Mediterranean diet consists mostly of plant foods. These include fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Animal protein is consumed chiefly in the forms of fish and poultry. Olive oil is the principal fat. And wine is taken with meals.

Are there treatments for excessive sweating?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I sweat a lot, particularly on my forehead, when I get nervous. This is especially true when I'm about to meet new people. It's very embarrassing. Any suggestions?

DEAR READER: Sweating helps you to maintain your body temperature. But when your body sweats more than it needs to, that's called "hyperhidrosis."