Advice from Area Health & Wellness Professionals
Q. My teen daughter no longer wants to go with me on grocery store trips and keeps looking for excuses not to go out to dinner with the family. Could this be due to a negative relationship with food, or am I just overthinking things?
A. You definitely have reason to be curious about the changes you have seen in your daughter. The global pandemic and the changes that have come with it have led to an increase in eating disorders in adolescents. What you are seeing could be early signs that she is developing an unhealthy relationship with food. It is worth sitting down with her and letting her know what you have observed and asking if she is okay. More teens are trying to control things such as food and their bodies when other parts of life are difficult to deal with. This can be a way of distracting from unpleasant emotions. Unfortunately, this can lead to disordered eating behaviors, such as restricting or dieting, emotional eating, binge eating, over-exercising, and more. If you find that she is struggling, help is available, and early intervention is key to recovery.
Q. My son recently sprained his ankle while playing soccer. Although it is now healed, is there a higher risk of it being re-sprained? If so, what can we do to prevent another injury?
A. An ankle sprain is when one or more ligaments of the ankle are injured due to being stretched beyond their normal capacity. There are several grades of ankle sprains, ranging from being overstretched to being torn or ruptured. Generally speaking, the worse the swelling, the more severe the injury; however, your foot and ankle specialist would be able to determine the severity of the injury. Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in athletes. This is in part because an athlete who sustains an initial ankle sprain is at an increased risk of another. Because an estimated 20% of recurrent ankle sprains can result in persistent pain and instability, prevention is of utmost importance. In your son’s case, it sounds as if he is out of the initial healing stage, but he is still at risk for a recurrent sprain within the next year. Certain modalities can contribute to decreasing the incidence of recurring ankle sprains, such as ankle bracing or taping, peroneal tendon strengthening, and joint position exercises.
Q. My surgeon has discussed endovascular surgery to repair an aneurysm. How is this different from traditional vascular surgery, and what are the benefits?
A. Traditionally, abdominal aortic and thoracic aneurysms were repaired through a large incision either in the abdomen or the chest to replace the diseased portion of the aorta with a synthetic conduit. This required a prolonged hospital stay, often in the ICU, and a potentially long recovery with significant risk to the patient. While this is still necessary in some patients, very often, aneurysms of the aorta can be repaired in an endovascular fashion with modern stent grafts. These are implanted through smaller incisions made in the groin, and in some cases, can be done with minimal amounts of anesthesia. Recovery from these procedures is much faster than open aneurysm repair, with the majority of patients going home the next day. Mortality and morbidity rates are lower with the endovascular approach than with the open approach, and it has been shown to be a durable, excellent repair for aneurysmal disease.
Q. I don’t smoke and have healthy levels of cholesterol, but I have a family history of heart attacks. Is this really a major risk factor, and how proactive should I be about my heart health?
A. You are doing many correct things from a lifestyle standpoint, so congratulations! Unfortunately, family history of heart disease is a non-modifiable risk factor for you. When we say family history, we specifically mean heart disease in a man before 55 years of age or in a woman before 65 years. This alerts us that your genes may place you at higher risk for the early onset of disease. Regardless, optimizing all of your risk factors can lower your risk substantially – family history or not! Not smoking and having optimal cholesterol levels are important, but you should also focus on the other five components of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – which include diet, exercise, weight, glucose, and blood pressure – to be the healthiest you that you can be!
Q. I’ve been told the risk for hip fracture increases dramatically
after age 50. Are there things my husband and I can do to prevent it?
A. The incidence of hip fractures increases with age, doubling for each decade after age 50. Most hip fractures happen to people older than age 60. Caucasians and Asians are more likely to be affected than others, and women are more prone to them than men. This is because more women than men suffer from osteoporosis (bone loss).
To prevent hip fractures, individuals should ensure they are taking enough calcium every day and engaging in regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, or hiking. Exercise programs like Tai Chi help promote strength and balance.
Other preventive measures may include eating a calcium-rich diet, stopping smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol use, keeping objects off the stairs and floors to prevent falls, using slip-resistant rugs, installing grab bars in the tub, installing nightlights from the bedroom to the bathroom, and avoiding standing on unsteady furniture or ladders.