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Health & Medical

¨  What does a dermatologist do to check the problem in the skin?
  In what way does an acute diesase differ from a chronic disease?
¨  I came across these weight reduction pills but am unsure whether I should use them or not.
  What is life for a dentist?
¨  Can a woman with unbroken hymen become pregnant?
¨  Advice for young nephew with attention problems in school
¨  Would a slim or overweight person be able to fast the longest?
¨  How do I keep my father healthy?
¨  Should I let my 13-year old son have sexual relations with his girlfriend?
¨  Can a person survive a heart attack by coughing?
¨  What is the starting salary for an optometrist?
¨  How many years of study does it take to become an optometrist?
¨  Is it healthy to lie down after eating?

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What does a dermatologist do to check the problem in the skin?  Just look at it or look from a machine?  How do they cure the skin by medicine or some type of cream and do they operate on people's skin?

ANSWER from Roger Herzler on 14 December 2006:
Dermatologists use a variety of techniques to diagnose skin problems.  It includes visual identification of the symptoms or scraping off small particles of the skin ailment, allowing them to look at it under a microscope.  There are many treatment options available including prescribing topical medicines (i.e. cremes), moisturizures, vitamins, changes of lifestyles and surgery.  Every condition is unique to the person experiencing it.  The dermatologist must tailor the solution or solutions to each patient.  Often, courses of action are modified as treatment progresses, sometimes by trial and error.

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In what way does an acute diesase differ from a chronic disease?

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 8 October 2006:
An acute disease is a disorder that lasts for a short time.  It comes suddenly and goes away quickly (i.e. if you have a stomach ache after eating).  A chronic disease is a disease that is long term (i.e. arthritis in the elderly).

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I have put on loads of weight in the past one year.  I want to reduce as quickly as possible because my college is starting in 4 months.  I came across these weight reduction pills but am unsure whether I should use them or not.  Could you please assist me with whether I should take them or not?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 22 August 2006:
I am not an expert and we do not give medical advice, however.... please, please, please do not try to lose weight rapidly.  That is very unhealthy.  Personally, I would not take any of those supplements but you should check with your medical professional.  Please DO NOT buy these things over the Internet and take them without consulting your doctor.

If you have "put on loads of weight" over one year, don't expect to lose it faster than you put it on.  Actually, you will likely lose it slower.  Rapid weight loss leads to weight gain and yo-yo dieting.  Everytime you drop weight quickly, it will stay off for a bit and then rise and pass where you were at.

The best way to lose weight is by eating healthy, decreasing your calorie intake and exercising.  If you are quite overweight, you probably should still check with your doctor before trying a major change your lifestyle.  If you eat sensible and exercise reasonably, you should be fine.

Better than weight reduction pills, I would like to recommend an excellent book: The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom by Dr. Phil McGraw

This is a really good book to help you get back on track with your weight.

Please lose weight in a healthy way.  In four months, by not overeating, avoiding junk and fatty foods, and increasing your exercise, you should be able to lose a good amount of weight.  Don't plan on losing more than about a kilo per week.  Depending upon your size, you may lose more or less.  You will also notice your weight staying level at times.  Don't get discouraged.  Pay more attention to the way your clothes fit.  That is a better indicator of progress than the scale.  As you exercise, you will gain muscle weight which weighs more than fat but you will lose inches!

I am speaking from experience.  I have been changing my lifestyle to lose weight I put on by eating poorly and not exercising enough.  It's slow but persistence makes it pay off.

Best wishes with college.  Contact us again and let us know how your weight loss is coming along!  I hope the Dr. Phil book and my other suggestions help!

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I was wondering if you could tell me if when a person eats and then lays down directly after, is it bad for them or their digestion?

ANSWER from Bonnie Walters on 10 January 2006:
Imagiverse cannot give out specific medical advice but can answer some questions with general concepts.  As with anything that has to do with medicine, not even this question is straightforward.

Almost everybody can easily tolerate eating and immediately go to sleep.  There are a few people who have syndromes (syndrome is a combination of physical findings) such as acid reflux, or hiatal hernia may find their symptoms are increased if they eat and immediately go to bed.  Some of these people need to eat several hours before lying down.  Some are even more comfortable sleeping in a semi-upright position.

As usual, common sense and paying attention to your body’s symptoms can be your guide.

Good health to you,

Bonnie J. Walters

ANSWER from Imagiverse Team on 5 January 2006:
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Could you tell me what makes you a dentist and what life is for a dentist?  I know dentists are rich and are they happy every day?

ANSWER from Lisa Schnaidt on 12 September 2005:
Thank you for taking an interest in Dentistry.  First of all, I knew very early in life that I wanted to be a dentist because I spent time in my grandfather's office.  It was his love of his craft that inspired me.  I wanted to be just like him.  Dentistry is hard work.  It requires many years of school and training.  It requires discipline, skill, patience, personality, dedication, compassion, a great work ethic, a sense of humor, and a desire to always better your skills.  There are many joys in the field of dentistry.

You make lifetime friendships with collegues and patients.  You treat several generations of people within a family (grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren).  You can choose to help the unfortunate and make them smile.  There are many riches to be gained beyond money.  People are a great and lasting joy; money is just paper.  Yes, I am happy most days because I try and do my best and treat people with respect.  I now have the pleasure of training young dental students to be the very best that they can be.


Lisa Schnaidt, DDS

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Does a girl with unbroken hymen get pregnant?  Do sperm pass through unbroken hymen?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 18 May 2005:
Yes.  Pregnancy is a definite possibility.

This is a question that you should take up with a medical professional.  Early prenatal care is of extreme importance so if pregnancy is suspected, don't wait.  If you are a sexually active young person, be sure you are prepared to face the consequences of your actions.

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I as well as my sister who has an 8 year old son are experiencing a very hard time in our lives.  My nephew's behavior has gotten worse when it comes to going to school.  He is a little boy who does not express his emotions, feelings or just simply things that might be bothering him.  My sister has taken him to many counselors and nothing seems to work.  I know he has problems concentrating in class and easily gets distracted.  This causes him to fall behind and not finish in class assignments.  Is there a special place or specialists that we can take my nephew to so he can get the help he needs?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 18 May 2005:
Thank you for writing to Imagiverse. And a special thank you for trying to find help for your little nephew.  I assume that your nephew has been checked out by his doctor.  It's possible that he could be struggling with some sort of learning difficulities.  The frustration and challenges children go through when they have learning differences is terrible.  They need unconditional support and encouragement.  Quite often teachers don't understand the situation and they label kids as behavior problems or lazy.  Most kids just want to please.  When they don't, a whole bunch of emotional turmoil can come into play making everything even more difficult.

I think a great starting point for you to help your nephew is to read some of what Mel Levine has written (see: http://www.allkindsofminds.org/).

Another terrific expert and reference is Richard Lavoie.  He has some really great videos like "F.A.T. City" which makes learning differences understandable.  See: http://www.ricklavoie.com/

Vision is another source of problems that often goes undetected.  If the eyes do not work correctly, the student has to work twice as hard to follow classroom instruction.  It's exhausting!  The child doesn't know when he has a vision problem because he thinks everyone sees that way.  Eye screenings done at school often make matters worse because the answer may be: "He has perfect 20/20 vision."  All that says is that he can see at 20 feet what most people see at 20 feet.  It doesn't say anything about what is close or focussing between near and far or anything else about vision.  Please read my article about Visual Health: http://imagiverse.org/resources/articles/vision_health.htm

I am on the Board of the Inland Empire Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.  Our branch has a website at: http://www.dyslexia-ca.org/.  There is a lot of great information out there too.

I hope this gives you some starting points.  Please let your nephew know that he is a great kid.  He is not alone.  Learning is really great fun and a lot of educators believe:

"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."

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If an overweight person and a person of proper weight were without food or water, which person would die first?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 8 January 2005:
This is a question that does not have a definitive answer.  There is not enough information in the question.  Many factors would affect the result.  People can live indefinitely if they have either food or water (water is critical but if they are able to get enough from the food they eat, they can survive).  Likewise, a person may be able to find things to eat which we do not consider "food" but provide essential nourishment and they could survive.  A healthy person with excess fat may have some advantages over a person who does not have excess fat, however obesity can have many disadvantages including stress on the heart and other organs.  An overweight person whose weight is primarily muscle weight (versus fat)compared to a person who is "proper weight" but lives a sendentary unhealthy lifestyle, may be more healthy and more likely to survive.  Of course, you have other factors unrelated to weight which would also affect the outcome.

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My father is suffering from high blood pressure.  He has no history of diabetes, heart problems or cholestrol.  He has problem with this neck bone which has over grown and thus is pricking his nerve.  He is also overweight.  When he went for the sleep test, the doctors diagnosed that there was no oxygen flow to the brain when he sleeps.  If he sits and sleeps it's fine.  And the result of that, he has bad headaches after getting up and the pressure increases.  The doctors also said the pressure can lead to a stroke or maybe death during sleep within 3 minutes of disconnection of oxygen to the brain.  I would like to have your advise on what treatment he can carry on, about his diet, and what to do about it and what is really the problem here.  I really love my father and hope you can give me a good reply soon.

ANSWER from Bonnie Walters on 26 August 2004:
First off, we’re very sorry your dad is not feeling well.  We cannot give out medical advise through Imagiverse as it would not be prudent and it sounds like he is being treated for his ailments.  Good communications with your father's doctors about his treatment is the best way to put your mind at ease.  Your father is ahead of the curve and already knows about the things that may cause him difficulties in the future.  This is why people go in for yearly checkups -- to identify any potential disease and findings that lead to potential disease.  However, we do share your concern about your father's health and can discuss healthy lifestyles in general.

We always encourage everyone to eat healthy, exercise and decrease health risks such as smoking, and weight.  Being aware of what you are eating and making healthy choices is imperative.  People tend to jump from one diet fad to another without success.  Moderation and awareness is the key.  Write down what you eat.  You'd be surprised… your father's doctors could recommend a dietician or nutritionist.  Both are experts on diets and health.

You can't start too young, either.  Our children are at risk for early obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.  We need to give our children healthy foods from the beginning.  Don't buy the junk food!  Have lots of vegetables chopped up and ready for them when they come home.  Put a little peanut butter or cream cheese on it for protein and they'll be ready to go.  Limit time in front of the TV or computer.  Get them outside to exercise.  We spend 12-14 years of our kid's life working to get them to brush their teeth every morning and night but do not spend the same time and energy to get them to exercise!  Have a "family" walk and use the time to improve family communication.

Your father is fortunate to have a caring daughter and we wish you the best in the future.

Bonnie Walters
American Heart Association
Western Territories South
Emergency Cardiac Care Committee

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My son is 13 years old and wants to have sexual relations with his little girlfriend.  My son is able to confide in us, and tell us what is going on in his life, as we are a very close knit family, but I don't know.  Should I let him have sexual relations?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 15 August 2004:
I am happy to hear that your family is close knit and able to communicate on things of this nature, but I wonder, would you be asking the same question if the "little girlfriend" was your daughter and her friend wanted to have sexual relations with her?

Thirteen year olds are children.  They do not have the emotional maturity for sexual relations.  They are not prepared to be parents if the girl should end up pregnant.  Besides that, if they start to have sexual relations at this young age, they will probably end up having many partners before they even reach the age and maturity for real love.  It's a danger to their health too!

Since your son is able to confide in you, you should talk to him about everything that it means to have sexual relations, the consequences and the risks to their health (physical and emotional).  He should not think of sexual relations as a diversion or pasttime.  He should think about his girlfriend, and if he really cares about her and their friendship, he should demonstrate this by being a true friend and respecting her.

In my opinion, giving him permission to have sex at the age of 13 is a very bad idea and probably, it will mean many problems in the future.

I hope this helps.

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Is there any truth to the story that a person can survive a heart attack by doing a type of self-CPR by coughing vigourously and repeatedly?

ANSWER from John Walters, M.D. on 11 January 2004:
This is a very interesting proposal.  As with most stories, there is some truth and a lot of hopeful wishing.  The truth is that heart attack fatalities is due to the inability of the damaged heart to properly pump oxygenated blood from the lungs to the body and to vital organs.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is any technique that augments blood flow.

In the hospital we sometimes place a catheter in the aorta and inflate and deflate a balloon to assist in improving blood flow.  Occasional cases in the Intensive Care Unit and in the cath lab have developed cardiac standstill or ventricular fibrillation and all blood flow stops.  The patients become faint and would pass out unless we started CPR.  A deep breath and forceful cough provides enough blood flow to maintain consciousness.  I have seen this continued for the time it took to take the patient from the ICU to the cath lab for insertion of a permanent cardiac pacemaker (about 6-8 minutes).

This level of forceful coughing every 2 seconds is difficult to maintain for very long and is not likely to help a person who is alone when he develops cardiac standstill.  This technique represents an interesting but minor procedure in the treatment in acute heart attack and rhythm disturbances.  The situations that this procedure would benefit are extremely rare.  Keep in mind that most episodes of feeling faint are due to a drop in blood pressure in spite of a continued cardiac rhythm.  In all of these episodes the required treatment is laying down with the legs elevated.

John Walters M.D.
Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

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What salary can a new optometrist expect to start out at?

ANSWER from Frank Terranova, O.D. on 14 December 2002:
You asked also what salary can a new optometrist plan to start?  The key word to your question is START.  If you are new at any job, you are considered inexperienced.  The same is true in optometry.  It also depends on the mode of practice (in private office, a commerical establishment, HMO, or for the government) which determines your salary.  The average person fresh from school and newly licensed can expect to make $40-$55/ hour while someone who has many years of experience can make as high as $300/ hour.  It may sound like a lot of money but remember you are paying back those student loans that gave you that education.  It usually takes 10-15 years to pay back the cost of your education.

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How many years of study does it take to become an optometrist?

ANSWER from Dr. Francis M. Terranova, O.D. on 18 June 2002:
About 95% of the people entering optometry school have a minimum of a bachelor's degree.  There are many pre-requisite courses needed, for example: four semesters of college chemistry, two semesters of college physics, biochemistry, biology, plus calculus.  I believe the minimum number of completed college semester credits is 90 just to apply to optometry school.

Optometry school is four years and during the last two years, the student must take three sets of National Boards and pass them.  If you do not pass them, you cannot apply for licensure in any State.  These three exams are each three days long and are very intense, testing in every area from clinical optometry to physics of a telescope, to human anatomy and physiology.  Each of the three exams has four parts and all four parts must be passed in order to move to the next exam.  So once you have completed the National Board exam and have graduated from optometry school, you may now apply for licensure.  However, many of the students do not know the results of the third part of the National Board exam until a month after graduation.

Now some students will elect to do a residency for one year in either pediatrics, low vision, hospital optometry, contact lenses, etc.  This is done at a very low income for one year but teaches the optometrist many extra skills that he/she did not learn while in optometry school.

Overall, it takes about nine years to complete a good optometric education prior to opening ones own practice.

Frank Terranova
Developmental Optometrist
California, USA

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2 July 2007

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