Fever in children and what to do about it?

fever - friend or foe

fever – friend or foe

Dear Dr. Mo: I’m wondering if I should always aggressively try to bring fever down in my child? Isn’t fever sometimes good?

Dear reader: Fever in children can be a tricky thing and it’s one of those symptoms that scares parents the most – for a good reason as no parent wants to see their child sick. So what to do about it?

In the simplest of terms and most commonly – do nothing.

Now, this comes with a few strings attached, as usual, so let me clarify.. Continue reading

5 Cholesterol lowering foods – Infographic

FullSizeRenderDear Dr. Mo: What are some of the foods that could help lower my cholesterol?

Dear reader: Eating a healthy diet in general can be challenging and tailoring it to a specific health need only adds to that challenge. Before embarking on any significant change in your diet, I suggest you first speak with your doctor who could give you useful pointers, link you with a specialist and follow up on your progress.

 

To get you started, I’ve written about such foods here

To answer your question, I’ve made this useful infographic to serve as a quick reference point to what’s out there Continue reading

Zika Virus Infographic – symptoms, transmission and prevention

Dear readers: I’ve received several questions related to Zika virus so in response, I’ve made this simple infographic with basic information. For further information on this evolving and important health issue it is best to stay up to date by following Zika Virus topic on relevant sites like WHO, CDC and alike.

Zika Basics Infographic Image credit: AskDrMo.ca

Hypertension – how to get an accurate measurement?

Dear readers: Many of your questions revolved around Hypertension – elevated blood pressure, which is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, kidney (renal) failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately.

Measuring your own is the best way to track itWhether you are checking your blood pressure (BP) at home as advised by your physician or at your physician’s office, it is important to do it right and get an accurate measurement.

Check out this infographic with 7 simple tips to help you get the most precise BP measurement.

Continue reading

Why it’s okay to have some chocolate

Dear Dr. Mo: I’d like to know if there are any health benefits we can derive from eating chocolate?

chocolateDear reader: Having a sweet tooth myself, I very much understand your concern and in the context of health, I am happy to say – Yes!

I have already written in some detail about health benefits of chocolate so be sure to check it out.

Let me recap it here and add some fresh findings to support it.

Just recently, certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoa flavanols, have been linked with improved cognitive abilities, especially in aging individuals. It appears that regular flavanols consumption can turn a tide on some age-related thinking dysfunctions.

This conclusion comes out of a recent Italian study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Continue reading

You think you are ready to have children? After taking this awesome test you MAY not be so sure anymore!

Dear readers, particularly potential and future parents: As you know, my blog is about healthy living practices and information that can improve and maintain your good health but this post may be somewhat different and no less important; although it could be argued that parenthood affects health in more ways than one – for example, you’ll never suffer from as many different varieties of colds combined with fatigue and lack of sleep as in the first few years of being a parent; in addition, the amount of stress and entropy progressively increase.

Photo credit: Mandatory.com

Photo credit: Mandatory.com

I’ve read this test for future parents just the other day (almost 4 years too late for me) and found it both very accurate and hilarious at the same time – it’s funny how true these things really are and how challenging day-to-day activities with kids can sometimes be – the test captures some of those challenges in a humorous and precise, realistic way.

“Test For Future Parents” is originally by author Colin Falconer and comprises 14 steps to follow and test your psychological stamina and resilience before you have children and was originally printed in his book ‘A beginners guide to fatherhood’ in 1992 before finding its was on to many parenting blogs, Facebook posts and other places.

I invite you to read it, laugh and then roll up your sleeves and try some of the things, for both good fun and a sneak preview into your future.

TEST 1: Preparation

Women: To prepare for pregnancy

1. Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.

2. Leave it there.

3. After 9 months remove 5% of the beans.

Men: To prepare for children

1. Go to a local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself

2. Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.

3. Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.

 TEST 2: Knowledge Continue reading

Tongue piercing – complications, safety and the right choice of appliance

Dear Dr. Mo: I’d need some guidance about tongue piercing because my daughter has been mentioning she’d like to do it and I’d like to talk to her about it. What are the possible complications – is it infection, injury? What to do?

Avoid steel appliances

Avoid steel appliances

Dear reader: I understand your concerns. Being a parent myself, although blissfully still some years away from these and similar conversations with my daughter, I can appreciate your approach – being open about and discuss it is the right way to go.

To answer your question, it may come as a surprise that the most common complication of tongue piercing is not an infection and it’s not injury, although both of these tend to happen sometimes and could be serious. So, what is it? Continue reading

Ebola 101

Ebola PictureDear readers: With Ebola being on everyone’s radar these days (that being justified or not), let me outline the most important facts you should know about it.

Ebola is a viral illness and one of many Hemorrhagic Fevers (to hemorrhage means to bleed).

This is a severe disease, which begins abruptly and is often fatal and during this current outbreak, its reported fatality is in 55-60% of cases; some recover while others die and the reason for this remains unknown but it is noted that the immune response to the virus remains low at the time of death in individuals who do not recover.

How is Ebola transmitted?

If an Ebola patient is adequately quarantined, there’s no real reason for public to panic – this is not Flu and it’s not spread as easily. Ebola can be contracted in the following ways:

  • Through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids (blood, vomit, pee, poop, sweat, semen, spit, other fluids) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • Through direct exposure to objects (such as surgical instruments, needles etc.) that have been contaminated with infected bodily fluids

Continue reading

Marijuana, weight gain and other misfortunes

Dear Dr. Mo: I’m worried that smoking marijuana might make me gain weight – is it true that this could happen?

Dear reader: Consuming marijuana classically produces symptoms of increased appetite (so called the munchies) and in principle, it could lead to weight gain in otherwise healthy individuals. This, in addition to its anti-nausea effect (anti-emetic) is the reason marijuana is sometimes prescribed to cancer patients to alleviate some of their symptoms (from both the illness and its therapy).

Get high and fat

Get high and fat

It also often causes a dry mouth, which is usually noted by users and I should say that the munchies really should be the least of your concerns when smoking marijuana.
Let me explain.

I’ve heard people claim otherwise but the fact is that intoxication with marijuana does significantly impair motor function and consequently seriously interferes with driving ability – being high or being drunk makes almost no difference.
It can also cause a heart to race (tachycardia) and induce serious discomfort and even a panic attack.

Heavy marijuana use over long time is strongly linked to Amotivational syndrome, which is characterized by apathy and boredom – if this sounds too esoteric, let me put it into a real clinical scenario: Continue reading

When to eat?

Dear Dr. Mo: I’ve put my self on a weight loss program by combining advice and ideas from your posts. My largest meal has always been lunch and I figured to move it earlier in the day. I would like to know if timing of this meal would make any difference in my diet? Does a timing affect weight loss outcome?

When we eat is just as important

When we eat is just as important

Dear reader: Your hunch that eating your largest meal – lunch – earlier in the day would be better for your weight loss efforts is very accurate.
Data from a relatively recently published large-scale prospective study on the subject proves this to be the case.

The study had followed 400 overweight adults for 20 weeks and demonstrated that timing of meals predicted weight loss effectiveness; the results were published on January 29, 2013 in the International Journal of Obesity. Continue reading

Here’s Why You’re Really Gaining Weight

Dear Dr. Mo: Could obesity be contagious?

Dear reader: Obesity is of course not infectious per se but it’s well known to be ‘socially contagious’ and in that sense your question is spot on – eating habits of eating companions or groups exert significant influence on us; and we are mostly unaware of this fact.

Social contagion

Social contagion

One is more likely to be overweight if one has a lot of friends who are overweight and a very good way to gain weight is to have lunches or dinners with other people, especially if they are overweight.

On average, if you grab a meal with a friend, you will eat about 35% more than what you would eat if you were eating alone.

If you are eating in a group of 4, you will eat about 75% more and in groups of 7 or more people, you will probably eat 96% more! Continue reading

Stop With the Gluten-Free Already!

Dear Dr. Mo: Is gluten-free food generally a healthier option?

Dear reader: The trouble with gluten-free products is that they tend to have a health aura around them, which sometimes blinds people from seeing what they’re really eating.

There is nothing necessarily healthier about gluten-free bread or cookies or pasta or any other food you can think of. Often, if one took a closer look at the label, the product would likely be lower in protein and fiber than a non gluten-free alternative.  The catch is that the calorie counts remain the same or similar but because we may think that being gluten-free automatically means healthier food, we may eat more of it.

Many people who eat gluten-free foods say they think they’re healthier and also many believe it will help them lose weight but be cautious of this trap as you may actually be gaining weight by eating more and by eating foods with more fat, more sugar, less protein etc.

Continue reading

How to choose adequate UV protection for your eyes?

Dear Dr. Mo: How to be sure my sunglasses protect my eyes well from UV light? Is the price tag sufficient as guidance?

Dear reader: Your question is well timed and important and wherever we go, even when the skies are overcast with clouds, our skin and eyes are constantly exposed to UV light – invisible to us, but potentially damaging nonetheless.
Choosing the right protection becomes an integrative part of a healthy lifestyle.

Glasses UVThe two forms of UV (Ultra Violet) light that affect our health are UVA and UVB. There’s also UVC, which can be extremely damaging but our atmosphere’s ozone layer filters it out completely so it does not figure in our review here.

UVA is responsible for skin tanning and aging and UVB is linked to sunburn and skin cancer; a large portion of UVB is also absorbed by the ozone layer.

UV light also affects eye health and darker lenses may not necessarily provide better protection from it. In fact, a dark lens with poor or no UV protection can do just the opposite – it can damage the eye by allowing more UV rays into it. Continue reading

Zinc for the Common Cold – Does It Work?

Get your Zinc from food

Get your Zinc from food

Dear Dr. Mo: Is Zinc helpful in treating the common cold? Should I use it?

Dear reader: When we catch the infamous cold (acute upper respiratory tract infection), sometimes the symptoms may be severe enough that we reach out to anything that has even a hint of a promise of a quick cure.

 

The truth is, there’s no effective cure other than our own immune system and yet, many supplements are out on the market claiming to boost the immune response and help us fight off the virus.

Evidence is strong against any substantial effectiveness of any of these supplements.

Healthy diet and exercise remain the only sure fire ways to overcome the common cold – yes, even while you’re sick, if you can, you should moderately exercise (or at least stay active) and not rest for too long – this will speed up the recovery.

Zinc time and again emerges as one of the supplements suggested to help us fight the common cold but, does it work? Continue reading