Dr. Jacqueline Gerhart: After a Year of Health Columns, Here Are Some Updates
Madison, Wisconsin - UW Health Family Medicine physician Jacqueline Gerhart writes a column that appears Tuesdays on madison.com and in the Wisconsin State Journal. Columns are re-published here with permission.
As a new school year starts, so does a new year of my responses to your health questions. Thank you to all of my readers - and to all who have written questions. You've helped me learn and grow as a physician. Thanks also to those who have written feedback and taught me a thing or two. In reflection on the past year, I offer the following updates.
1. In my column on diabetic nutrition, I mentioned that alcohol and wine should be used with caution in diabetics - because of the calories and carbohydrates. A nutritionist pointed out to me that while a five-ounce glass of wine does have about 125 calories, it only has about three to five grams of carbohydrates. That's not many carbs. So, diabetics can indeed have a glass of red wine with dinner, and the health benefits may even outweigh the risks.
2. In my column on balding and hair loss, an aesthetician pointed out that lasers are being used to stimulate hair growth with some success. I did not mention this treatment in my column, and it is indeed a treatment option. But according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the efficacy and safety of these treatments are unknown, long-term.
3. In my column on new Pap smear guidelines, a physician stated that I should emphasize the need for an annual physical and pelvic exam, even if a Pap is only done every three to five years. In fact, there are no absolute guidelines on how often a person needs a physical exam or a pelvic exam. If you are regularly seeing a health care provider, you may not need an annual physical. Often, the health care provider can order labs, refill your medications, or address your medical history and immunizations at other visits. Frequency of visits and exams is personal and depends on your own treatment plan determined mutually with your provider.
4. In my column on falls in the elderly, I was contacted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services regarding its "Stepping On" fall prevention classes. I have reviewed this program and feel it is beneficial. I have a few patients who have reduced their falls after going through this program. See their website for more information.
5. In my column on hangovers, a physician mentioned there is good evidence that taking naproxen (Aleve) before going to bed can reduce a morning hangover. I agree that naproxen is your best bet, since it is an anti-inflammatory and will, therefore, decrease morning-after headaches and muscle aches. Naproxen is a better choice than acetaminophen (Tylenol) because the latter can cause liver problems at high doses, and the risk is greater when combined with alcohol.
6. And finally, regarding perhaps the most debated columns - the ones on fluoride in water, ADHD and bariatric surgery - I would like to thank all of you for your viewpoints and opinions on these topics. It's great to hear your excitement about health care.
For many of the columns, I relied on the expertise of local colleagues. I would like to thank the following people for their guidance: Dr. Lee Dresang, Dr. David Rakel, Dr. Irene Hamrick, Dr. Melissa Stiles, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Dr. Bruce Barrett, Dr. Jacob Greenberg, Dr. Val Gilchrist, Dean of Engineering Paul Peercy, Professor Philip O'Leary, and Dr. Ancil Philip. Thanks also to Kurt Zelm, Clayton Adams and Scott Longley for their weekly feedback.
Finally, a standing ovation for my editors, Beth Williams, Andrea Zani and Kari Brotzman. I look forward to your questions this coming year.
This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Gerhart to people submitting questions.
Date Published: 09/18/2012