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Wise as Salamon + Health News

ssalamon_non_cg_2566Suzanne Salamon, MD is chief associate of clinical geriatrics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.   Email general questions to mdeery@brooklinema.gov or call Maureen: 617. 730. 2790.   These excerpts have been edited. Read the full post in this month’s newsletter along with past columns https://www.brooklinema.gov/Archive.aspx?AMID=37

 

MARCH: It’s your annual physical. Ask about:  Blood pressure, cholesterol, bone density, colonoscopy, vaccines (flu, DTAP, shingles), hearing, BMI, depression, vision. Checkups work. 

FEBRUARY:  How common is lung cancer? Lung cancer is the most common cause of deaths from cancer in the world. The most common cause is smoking. It can lie dormant for years and suddenly start to grow. Symptoms: cough that doesn’t get better, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, bone pain, headache. Diagnosed by chest x-ray and CT scan. Biopsy may be followed by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy. Treatments are so much more effective now. It is important to diagnose and treat early.

JANUARY: Should I see a cardiologist before or after a heart attack? If before, what symptoms should I look for? Chest pain, or angina, is a common reason. It can be caused by a blockage, which narrows the arteries so much that blood and oxygen can’t get through, especially during physical activity. The doctor may order an EKG, stress test, ultrasound or cardiac catheterization. Other symptoms: pressure, squeezing, heaviness in the chest; pain or pressure in your neck, jaw, back or arm; paleness, cold sweat, or rapid and uneven heartbeats; difficulty catching your breath.

DECEMBER:  What do we need to know about the vaccines? So far, the vaccines require two doses, 3-4 weeks apart.  We don’t know if the vaccines reduce the risk of getting the virus, or they keep us from getting sick and we can still be carriers. We also don’t know how long protection lasts. There is no evidence the vaccines are unsafe. Health care workers will be offered the vaccine first. If you have had the virus, still get the vaccine. Keep wearing masks, distancing and washing hands.

NOVEMBER:  I am tired when I go to bed but then I cannot sleep. As the sun rises, I fall asleep and cannot get up until noon. Do you have suggestions?  As we get older, our sleep may change.  Insomnia may result from stress, depression, anxiety, medications or health problems. Alcohol, the computer, pain, lack of exercise, snoring, and sleep apnea may cause sleep problems. 

Turn off the TV and computer an hour before. Read a book or an electronic device that doesn’t have a light source. Wear ear plugs to block snoring. Get aerobic exercise like walking, dance and golf during the day. Talk to your doctor about melatonin. Short day naps are okay. Avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day. It is common to have short periods when we have trouble sleeping but it usually passes.

OCTOBER: Asked and answered by Suzanne Salamon – What is it like to have my 98 year-old mother move in with us?

My mom, Lilly, is as tough as they come. Two months ago, she fell. Incredibly, she is pretty much back to herself. We rented an apartment for her, four minutes from our home. She spends hours online; Google is her best friend. When I ask her how she feels about her new stage of life, she said: “I am the luckiest person alive.”  (Read the whole story here in the November 2020 issue: https://www.brooklinema.gov/Archive.aspx?AMID=37   Page 4)

SEPTEMBER: What is Telehealth? Meetings between patients and doctors by phone, computer or smartphone. Have your questions ready along with a list of medications and be ready to write instructions and suggestions. A blood pressure machine at home is handy particularly if your medications are being adjusted.

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 New York Times, Huffington Post, New Yorker

  • A Number That May Not Add Up, by Jane E. Brody, Times, April 14
    Weight Matters
  • The Sixth Stage of Grief, by Joel Yanofsky, Times, April 11
    Buying a Puppy
  • Why a Brisk Walk Is Better, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, December 4
    Pick up the pace
  • In the End, It’s Not About the Food, by Corey Mintz, Times, November 26
    Just a little
  • Think Like a Doctor, by Lisa Sanders, MD, Times, October 3
    A Green Heart
  • A Youthful Glow, Radiating From Within, by Jane E. Brody, Times, September 30
    You look mahvelous
  • Manson Whitlock, Typewriter Repairman, Dies at 96, by Margalit Fox, Times, September 8
    Work works
  • Online Lessons in Dementia Management, by Judith Graham, Times, Sept 5
    Caring and Coping
  • Eat Your Heart Out, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, March 7
    Your Heart
  • Gross Ingredients In Processed Foods, by Sarah Klein, Huff Post, May 14
    Eat no meat
  • We Could Be Heroes, by Mark Bittman, Times, May 15
    Eat less meat
  • Nutrition: Options Play a Role in Healthier Choices, by Nicholas Bakalar, The Times, February 13
    Food story
  • The Fat Trap, by Tara Parker-Pope, The Times, December 28
    Sad story
  • In the Body’s Shield Against Cancer, a Culprit in Aging May Lurk, by Nicholas Wade, The Times, Nov 21
    Old story
  • Redefining the Hot Dog, a Cart at a Time, by Jeff Gordinier, Times, August 9 “There are children in New York who have never eaten a hot dog.” Very sad story