Health Watch: How to ease dry eye

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Do your eyes feel itchy, gritty or like you have something in them? You may have dry eye and don't know it.

Dry eye is one of the most common reasons patients visit an ophthalmologist. It's estimated that as many as 25 million Americans suffer from it. Most commonly, it afflicts women and the elderly, and it can make you miserable. The most common causes are inflammation in the lacrimal gland, causing the gland to reduce the production of tears that lubricate the eye, and by blocked oil glands in the eyelids.

How to help? Your ophthalmologist might recommend:

- Environmental changes: Putting a humidifier in the bedroom or making sure heat sources don’t blow toward your face.

- Changing medications: Some oral medications, such as antihistamines, can cause symptoms. A switch in drugs may reduce dry eye.

- Artificial tears: Lubricating eye drops coat patients’ eyes to give them temporary relief.

- Anti-inflammatory therapy can reverse the cause of the problem so patients can make their own tears.

-- ARA content

Growth in Medicaid anticipated

Government experts say they expect the cost of providing health care to the poor to increase 7.9 percent annually.

Actuaries for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released their first report on the program's trends and outlook, according to wire reports.

Actuaries said the cost increases they expect in the coming decade are not unique to Medicaid. Costs for every form of health coverage have increased rapidly and reflect new, better and more complex services as well as wage inflation in the medical sector.

Health Tip

While the weather may seem cooler, many regions of the country continue to experience high ultraviolet indexes throughout the fall. In fact, even on gray, cloudy days, as much as 80 percent of UV rays can pass through the clouds.

It's a myth that the need for sun protection stops when fall starts. Here are some skin-care tips for fall:

- Protect your face: While arms and legs are generally covered during cool seasons, your face is one part of the body that can receive year-round sun exposure.

- Don't forget the hands: If you aren't wearing gloves, the skin on your hands is just as susceptible to sun damage as the skin on your face.

- You're never "above" damaging rays: Whether you are hiking up mountainous terrain or speeding down the slopes, the sun's rays become stronger as altitude increases.

-- ARA content

Number to Know: $280 million

Since 1993, walkers have raised more than $280 million through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the American Cancer Society's premier event to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer.

Children’s Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics is doubling the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents. The report recommends all children receive 400 International Units a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life.

The previous recommendation, issued in 2003, called for 200 IU per day beginning in the first two months of life.

While vitamin D is found in some common foods, kids (not to mention their parents) don't eat them in sufficient amounts. To make up the deficit, doctors suggest a daily kids' multivitamin; most varieties on the market should have at least 400 IU of vitamin D.

Senior Health

To ensure Americans are best prepared to deal with the growing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Disease Screening Discussion Group encourages everyone with a loved one age 55 and older to learn more about the disease.

The chart below can help distinguish between normal signs of aging and others signs that might indicate something more serious.

Normal aging:            

- Forgetting names of people you rarely see

- Briefly forgetting part of an experience

- Occasionally misplacing something

- Mood changes due to an appropriate cause

- Changes in your interests

Potential signs of Alzheimer’s disease:

- Forgetting the names of people close to you

- Forgetting a recent experience

- Not being able to find important things

- Having unpredictable mood changes

- Decreased interest in outside activities

Always speak with a doctor if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing memory loss or changes in cognitive ability. Visit for more information.

-- ARA Content

Flu Shot Guide

Flu shot season is nearly upon us, and the vaccine is becoming available. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide all you need to know about the flu vaccine.

There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:

- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.

- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.

- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.

- Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group).

- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

Next week: Possible side effects.

-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

GateHouse News Service