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

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

Your lifestyle can protect your brain – small lifestyle changes largely reduce stroke risk

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Dear Dr. Mo: Someone I know has just had a stroke. What can I do to reduce my risks of stroke? I’m middle aged and generally in good health.

Dear reader: What we have long suspected, the latest study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke confirms: By making small changes in our lifestyle, we could reduce our risk of having a stroke by up to 48%, depending on our general health status – the better our overall health, the larger the reduction in stroke risk!

Researchers in the study assessed stroke risk by using the American Heart Association’s  Life’s Simple 7 health factors: 

  1. Be active
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Manage blood pressure
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Control blood sugar and
  7. Don’t smoke

Continue reading

Back pain – how to reduce it?

Dear Dr. Mo: My lower back hurts. What can I do besides medication to reduce the pain?

Back pain affects 80% of the population

Back pain affects 80% of the population

Dear reader: Back pain is sadly a very common ailment that affects most of us (some 80%) at some point in life. Although in many cases some anatomical/organic problem exists in the back, our repeated behaviours stress our bodies and strain our muscles and bones, making the pain more frequent, prolonged and more intense.

There are a few behaviours you can try to avoid to reduce your back pain (especially lower back pain) or to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Continue reading